Mystery over mysterious ‘medieval passageway’ buried under Scottish town finally solved

THE MYSTERY of where a 100 metre medieval tunnel in Scotland ends has finally been solved thanks to recent excavations.

The intricate underground passageway next to Paisley Abbey in Renfrewshire is believed to have been a drainage system but has been puzzling people for decades because no one could figure out where the exit was.

This 14th century exit arch has been uncovered
Renfrewshire Council

The drain was known to have existed but wasn’t rediscovered until 1990.

It is an important medieval archaeological site because of all the artefacts that have been discovered in there such as buckles, coins, a knife handle and pottery.

Discovering where the tunnel ends gives archaeologists a good idea of the infrastructure and layout of medieval Paisley and the recent excavations have established where and how it met the nearby River Cart.

An eight-week dig this summer has uncovered a well-preserved 14th century stone archway, marking where and how the drain met the river and it’s around three-metres from the banks of the present-day river.

Archaeologists have been searching for the exit to this ancient drain tunnel for years
Renfrewshire Council

�Warren Media 2016

This is what part of the 100 metre drain passage looks like[/caption]

Dig leader Bob Will, of Guard Archaeology, said: “We found more than I was expecting and it is really exciting.

“We found the end of the drain and what was the boundary wall of the monastery.

“The main parts of the drain date back to the mid-14th century and are incredibly well preserved. It goes at least as far as the road in front of Renfrewshire House.

“Often these types of drains are in rural areas not urban ones where there will have been pressure on the land above it – but considering the amount of buildings on that site over the centuries, the condition of the drain is quite incredible.”

The medieval tunnel exit was discovered during an eight week dig this summer
Renfrewshire Council

The find is now being covered up again but it could lead to a more permanent visitor attraction with access to the drain in the future.

The Abbey Drain Big Dig was co-ordinated by Renfrewshire Council.

Members of the public will now be able to put their names forward to go inside the medieval drain at this year’s Doors Open Day in September.

Archaeologist Bob Will from Guard Archaeology led the dig near Paisley Abbey
©Gibson Digital

Mr Will added: “What we have uncovered has helped us see what could be done with any future excavation.

“We now know much more about the medieval ground levels and have a good idea where some of the monastery buildings were.

“Ideally there would be more permanent access to the drain at some point in the future and what we’ve uncovered here makes that much more feasible.”

UK mysteries 'solved' by archaeology

Here are some of the most exciting discoveries that have happened in Britain…

  • Richard III final resting place: The skeleton of King Richard III was discovered by archaeologists in a supermarket carpark in Leicester in 2013
  • How Stonehenge was built: The huge monoliths that make up Stonehenge may have been dragged there using greasy sledges lubricated with pig fat, according to new research from Newcastle University
  • Why there were 39 decapited skulls at the London Wall: Skulls discovered within the boundaries of ancient London back in 1988 are now believed to have belonged to gladiators who were beheaded for amusement purposes thanks to a recent reassessment of the remains
  • Queen Emma’s remains: The lost bones belonging to an 11th-century English queen called Queen Emma are believed to have been found in a chest in Winchester Cathedral

In other archaeology news, Europe’s oldest human footprints have been found on a Norfolk beach – and belong to mystery 950,000-year-old ancestor.

Mystery as human remains, piles of ‘ritual sacrifice’ animal bones and treasure are found in cave ‘believed to have healing properties’.

And, archaeologists have uncovered evidence of cannabis at a 1,000-year-old Viking settlement.

What do you make of this medieval tunnel discovery? Let us know in the comments…

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