Trash or Treasure?

When I started to work with found objects, I began walking along the various bits of coast that I could access on my morning exercise with the dog.  I collected any items that caught my eye with a view to using it in my work.  However, it was not long before I felt compelled to start collecting the “trash” as well as the “treasure” and, sadly, there is much more of this.  People often ask me what has been the most interesting find so I thought I would compile a post to let you know!


In January 2017, I was walking at East Head, West Wittering when I found this object.  I had no idea what it was and took a couple of photographs, hoping to discover it’s identity when I got home.  I belong to an excellent online group of beachcombers and after many suggestions of coconut or coco de mere, someone suggested that it was part of a human cranium!  And so it was!  The police was called and the skull sent off for analysis.  Sadly, I never got to find out the results but believed it was mostly likely to be from an ancient burial at sea   .  The Daily Star headline ran “Mystery as ‘shipwrecked sailor” head found on British beach in odd circumstances” and for a day or two I was famous as the story went viral.  Of course I did not find a “head”, we don’t know who it belonged to and the circumstances were not “odd”!

I am drawn to all things rusty and confess to having quite a collection of items for use in rust dyeing and assemblage.  Here is one I particularly liked sitting on my kitchen windowsill:  Once again, it was not long before the alarm was raised and the police followed by the bomb squad visited!  I have found several objects since which have been more obviously questionable and now know to call the coastguard rather than bring the item home!

Rusty bottle Wittering 13:3:17.jpg

I would guess that most of the litter than I pick up has been either dropped at the beach by visitors or has washed in from the sea somewhere else in the UK.  I regularly find old shoes and shoe heels and soles and I think that these come from an old dump on the Isle of Wight some 24 miles away as the crow flies.


I often find objects labelled from overseas.  Whilst I can see that some of these have made the journey by sea from their apparent destination, some may have been purchased in the UK.  I recently found a label from Brazil, often find European packaging and occasionally things from the USA such as this lobster creel tag from Maine:

Melvin L Hutchinson

I am now in touch with this gentleman’s daughter who lives on a small island in Maine and the family are amazed that I found the tag belonging to Melvin who has just retired from 70 years as a lobster fisherman!

Some of my finds demonstrate the sad fact that plastics are prevalent in our seas and that they will take many many years to decompose – a drinks bottle will take 450 years to vanish!  Here a few examples of relatively recent finds (CLICK FOR DETAILS):


And, finally, I occasionally find an object and cannot ascertain it’s purpose.  I have now found nine of these little rubber items and am still none the wiser – they were found at differing locations but all within 5 miles or so of Selsey.  I know someone who has found a couple on the North East Coast of England too.  We agree that they are not rubber balls and can only think that they are some sort of protective cover.  If anyone could enlighten me I would be delighted!


8 thoughts on “Trash or Treasure?

  1. How I envy you being able to ramble along the coast like that, and your fascinating finds! But is is disheartening to see all the trash that has been dumped – especially the plastics. Thank you for your clean up efforts.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes, sometimes it is overwhelming and it seems pointless but I have to think that anything I take is a bag less in the sea! And, yes, it is a lovely part of the world!


  2. It’s a sample size of Elizabeth Arden liquid face make-up 🙂

    (many years ago when still working full-time, I always bought my make-up whenever a major department store had a special – a cosmetic zip-up bag with 5-7 free samples – these ‘samples’ were sometimes normal store size and to this day, I am still using up free ‘samples’ of some items).

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Actually it’s deodorant – you can see it written here on the front and on the back are instructions for use. I think it dates from late 40’s or early 50’s

    Liked by 1 person

  4. What a fascinating collection! Great to see but so sad that our beautiful seas/sea life have been a dumping ground for so long ! Thanks for sharing Helen – I’m envious !!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Still feel initial puzzlement at seeing messages from myself!! This is but a small part of what I have Helen – luckily I have a tolerant husband and a large garage!


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