How do you lose a river?

Jonathan William Gardner


In this paper I explore the concept of the 'lost river' and the implications this term has for our understanding of the history of changing urban environments. In taking a voyage down one of the London 2012 Olympic Park’s now-filled waterways, the Pudding Mill River, charting it and its surrounding area’s diverse history, I explore how rivers end up becoming ‘losable’. Drawing on diverse methodologies from archaeology and geography and with a particular emphasis on mapping, I argue that a literal and metaphorical exploration of such a rapidly changing environment reveals a multitude of buried narratives and fluid histories. This research suggests that the labeling of a river as ‘lost’ is not a politically neutral act and that, with its romantic connotations, the term may actually serve to legitimize insensitive and contentious changes to our environment.


lost rivers; archaeology; London 2012; Olympics; mega events

Full Text:



  • There are currently no refbacks.