How to Find Old Victorian Dump Sites

by | Nov 30, 2020 | Victorian Dump

If you have just joined the dump digging community, you might be wondering where is the best place to find hidden treasures. If this is a question that you have been asking yourself, then you have come to the right place. All over the UK, there are hidden dumps that date back to the Victorian era, where you can find all sorts of interesting things. People have been known to find old bottles, toys, and other cool objects that are over 100 years old. How cool is that?

To get started on your digging adventure, there are some things that you will need to know first like where are the best places to go, and what to look out for. Here, we will cover everything that you need to know so that you can go out and find what you are looking for. Hopefully, you will find this article helpful in your new adventure.

What are Victorian Dump Sites?

If you have found yourself reading this article but are unsure about what bottle dumps actually are, they are places where people from the Victorian era discarded their rubbish.

Where to Find Old Dump Sites

You will find it much easier to find old bottle dumps if you know exactly what to look out for and where you should be looking. Blindly searching for Victorian treasures is going to prove very difficult, so we are going to let you know where to look.

One of the best places to start looking is on the outskirts of your town or village. Many towns back in the day would dump all of their rubbish near the edge of the towns, where it would be out of the way. This would also be in areas that wouldn’t likely be developed upon like rivers or forests, so these are great places to start looking.

You should also have a look at the surroundings of farm fields. It isn’t always the best place to look, but you can follow the surrounding walls of old farms that are either in use or have been abandoned. If you are searching in an area that is still being used, make sure to ask for permission first to avoid trespassing. Farms were a lot more popular years ago, so you may have some luck in these areas.

Near to river beds and embankments is also a great place to look and is where most people seem to get lucky with their finds. It was not unlikely for people in the Victorian era to throw all of their rubbish into rivers that were close by. It would then travel with the current of the river and either end up in the ocean, or become discarded in the nearby dry land. You never know what you might find.

Leading on from our last point, the sea or other coastal areas are other places that you should search in. This is because the rubbish that was thrown into the river could have been carried all the way to the sea. Another reason that you should look to the ocean is that Victorian glass bottle companies would often throw their waste over the sides of cliffs and into the sea. This is how we end up with sea glass on some of our beaches. In some areas, you can find entire bottles and jars that are embedded into the sides of cliffs. If you see any glass sticking out of a cliff, it is a clear sign that there could be some bottles lurking under the surface, just waiting to be dug out.

Signs That You are Close to a Victorian Dump

One sure sign that you are nearing or have reached an old Victorian bottle dump is when you can see rusty metal. It can be common to find rusted metal in and around bottle dump sites, as they are usually what remains of old barrels and appliances. If you come across this type of metal in large amounts, it can be worth having a dig around to see what you can find. If nothing turns up, you can continue your search.

Another sign that you are close to an old dump is if you can spot glass on the surface of the ground. Whether the surface is sand, mud, or something else, if you can see scattered glass around the ground, you have probably found a bottle dump. You might only find bits of glass, which you could take home and tumble, but you can also find entire bottles and jars that are still intact. If you find one bottle, there are likely to be more nearby, so try to persevere in your search.

How to Find Old Dump Sites

One method that is highly recommended by bottle diggers everywhere is to look at Google Maps. If you pull up a site where you think there might be an old Victorian bottle dump, you can look at the area using Google Maps to look at places that may be more difficult to get to. This could help to save you a difficult wasted journey only to find no signs of a dump nearby.  You can look out for signs of debris and glass that could indicate that it is the location of a dump. You can also save the area to your account so that you can go back and look again, or search nearby.

You can also try using old maps to pinpoint old bottle dump locations. This method is probably going to be more difficult as you will need to get hold of the maps, but it could be really beneficial in aiding your search. You can try visiting your local library to see if they have any old maps of the area that you live in, most will, and you can look at the map to determine potential areas of interest. Sometimes, a dump site will be on undeveloped areas of land on the edge of the town, so this is something to look out for. These areas are usually darker on the map, or it could be completely blank.

What Can I Find at a Victorian Dump?

While these Victorian dumps are often referred to as bottle dumps, bottles are not the only things that you might find. Anything that was dumped along with the rubbish that will not have decomposed over time will still be there. This can include things like glass, pottery, and the remains of old toys. You never know what you might find there if you look closely enough. Some people have been known to find things like china doll heads and figures. 

Tools and Equipment for Bottle Digging

If you intend to go bottle digging, it can be helpful to take some tools and equipment with you just in case you find a cool site. Whether you have been there before, or it is somewhere new, you should always be prepared for the situation. You can either carry a backpack with you if you are walking or stock your car with tools if you are driving. If the location is difficult to get to and you have to walk quite a distance, you might want to think about packing less. 

The first thing that you should always have with you is plenty of water. Digging can be tiresome work, and you don’t want to get dehydrated. The amount you should take with you will depend on how long you will be out for, but it can be easy to end up out for longer than you originally intended. Always pack slightly more than you think you will need. In the same category, don’t forget to pack some lunch or a snack for when you get hungry. You might want to pack some hand wipes so you can clean your dirty hands before you eat. 

Another thing that you will need is suitable footwear. If you are going to be walking across difficult terrain or slippery mud, you will need appropriate shoes. A pair of hiking boots or walking boots will be great for this purpose. You should also wear old clothes as you will likely get very dirty. If the weather is going to be wet and miserable, you can also take a raincoat with you to avoid getting soaked. 

For digging purposes, there are a variety of tools that you can take with you that range in size. A good place to start is with a shovel and a rake, so you can dig and also sift through the piles that you have dug for anything you might have missed. Other than these two essential tools, it is up to you to decide what to take.

You will also need a good pair of waterproof gloves. Not only are these going to keep your hands warm and dry, but they will also help prevent you from hurting your hands. The constant digging motion with a shovel can give you blisters, and the gloves will help to form a barrier between the handle and your skin. They will also help to prevent you from cutting yourself on sharp shards of glass. 

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