Ball and chain found in Thames

Published on August 26th, 2009 | by Admin


The world’s only known complete ball and chain, dating back to the 17th or 18th century and believed to have once been attached to a convict who drowned trying to escape, has been found in the Thames.

The cast iron device suffered only a tiny amount of rust because it was encased in thick black mud on the river foreshore which shielded the metal from oxygen.

No bones were found alongside the discovery, but Museum of London Docklands archaeologists said today if a prisoner had perished in the river while chained up their bones would have been scattered long ago.

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18 Responses to Ball and chain found in Thames

  1. William Olsen says:

    Don’t show this to my boss

  2. Ray says:

    If the ball and chain were preserved by thick mud, presumably bones would be too. Also, there is no padlock? on the device so it is unlikely it was being worn when lost.

  3. simon says:

    It’s fake. At least two obvious reasons: that the metal would have survived 300 odd years in the mud, perhaps. But the leather? Never. Then the chain: 300 years ago chains were handmade, this chain is so regular and even it’s obviously machine made.

  4. dentists says:

    I suppose they would have been melted down, probably to produce devices with more pow!

  5. Chris says:

    I don’t think that it is fair to assume that because the leather is preserved and the links are all the same that this is a fake (although it does suggest it.) Much older examples of animal products have been preserved by similar methods (peat moss) for much longer periods, and metal casting was definitely in existence and use by the 17th century.

  6. Chris says:

    Oh, and at the risk of double posting, nowhere in the text does it suggest that the picture above is of the object found.

  7. Sam says:

    I suspect that no one was in this ball and chain because of what is missing. (No, I don’t mean bones)
    I mean the ‘lock’. Even if the flesh and bone disintegrated I do not think they would have put a prisoner into a ball and chain without a LOCK.

  8. anonymous says:

    …….aNd? Where’s the story here? Communication FAIL.

  9. anonymous says:

    If you go to the original article (Click the picture), you will see that the BBC included no picture so that is probably not the one found. Furthermore, the article specifically mentions the lock as being found with the ball and chain.

  10. google.saves says:

    that is not the ball and chain that was found.
    just a random pic. try searching before accusing fake :S

  11. me says:


  12. The girl Next door says:

    Does Anyone notice the carabiner holding the chain to the ball? it looks like something you could get at Wal mart.

  13. The girl Next door says:

    oh and the caption under the picture does in fact suggest that the pictured item was the one “found.”

  14. cap says:

    im with “me” on this one,

  15. Hugh G. Rekshun says:

    Cleveland Steamer.

  16. Dave says:

    I call fake. As has been said, the chain is machine made and look at the screw link. That is a dead give away. I don’t know when they started to make these, but it wasn’t that long ago.

  17. You are all wrong the picture is definitely not the found one go to this web site to see the original ball and chain found, end of story. Took me 2 seconds to find the original item, instead of all carrying on do a few seconds research.

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