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Work starts on archaeological dig to explore mysterious site near Paisley Abbey

Work has started to unearth a mysterious site next to the grounds of Paisley Abbey as part of an archaeological dig.

The Paisley “Wee Dig 2017” is taking place from 18 to 23 September 2017. This project will investigate a previously unexplored part of the Abbey Walkway site excavated to shed light on what lies beneath alongside a programme of events to allow people to get involved. This ties in with ambitions set out in the town’s bid for UK City of Culture 2021.

Work starts on archaeological dig to explore mysterious site near Paisley Abbey

The project has been funded through the Heritage Lottery Fund’s (HLF) Stories, Stones and Bones programme as part of the Year of History, Heritage and Archaeology.

Paisley’s iconic 12th century Abbey is an outstanding architectural gem in the town and was also the cradle of the Royal House of Stewart as a number of the Stewarts were buried within its walls. It is also believed that Robert II, the first Stewart king of Scotland and the grandson of Robert the Bruce, was born within the walls of Paisley’s Abbey. The Abbey also has a fascinating underground history – the magnificent medieval Abbey Walkway.

The “Wee Dig 2017” will expand what is already known about Paisley’s monastic past as well as inspiring some budding archaeologists of the future.

Leader of Renfrewshire Council, Cllr Iain Nicolson said: “The ‘Wee Dig 2017’ celebrates our town’s unique history and heritage and is a great way for the public to learn more about Paisley’s past and learn new skills in the process.

“This project ties in ties in with the main themes of our Paisley Town Centre Action Plan 2016 – 2026 which aims to regenerate the town centre and create jobs and also highlights how we are delivering on these plans by making the most of our assets to attract more people and businesses into the town.”

Lucy Casot, Head of HLF in Scotland, said: “The Heritage Lottery Fund is a key partner in the Year of History, Heritage and Archaeology and it’s our ambition that people of all ages will have the chance to discover something new about the heritage they care about.

“We’re delighted that, thanks to funding from the National Lottery, the wee Dig will be opening the door to fun, learning and everlasting memories for many people as we celebrate this special year.”

Over the course of the week a series of interactive workshops are taking place with local school children, community groups and members of the public. These sessions will involve experiencing the dig itself, learning about various archaeological techniques and looking at artefacts from previous digs.  A film on the Paisley Abbey Walkway will be featured to allow visitors to see what is under the area of the dig site.

The dig and supporting activities will be led by archaeologist firm GUARD Archaeology Limited who will manage the project on the ground, lead the workshops and be on hand to answer questions about what is uncovered.

GUARD Archaeologist, Bob Will, said: “The drain is an amazing architectural structure. It’s so well built and very detailed – it’s a very interesting structure to investigate.

“Working with volunteers from the Renfrewshire Local History Forum, community groups and members of the public who will visit the site this week we will unearth the site and see what we can find.”

The public is encouraged to come along, get involved and to share their experiences of this archaeology event, taking place during archaeology month, on Facebook and Twitter using the hashtag #WeeDig2017.