A 14-year-old schoolboy in Scotland has helped uncover long-lost medieval stone carvings in a church graveyard.
Mark McGettigan was taking part in a community dig to find the lost gravestones at Govan Old Parish Church in Glasgow when he made the incredible discovery, according to a statement. The Lourdes Secondary School pupil felt something solid beneath the surface of the graveyard, which turned out to be the first of three lost sculpted stones from the Middle Ages.
The stones were previously thought to have been accidentally destroyed when a neighboring shipyard building was demolished in the 1970s.
“I was just prodding the ground to see if there was anything there and suddenly it made a noise and I realized I had hit something,” McGettigan explained, in a statement. “Myself and two of the archaeologists worked out the area of the object and started to dig it out and clean it.”
Dating to 10th and 11th centuries A.D., the stones are part of a historic collection known as the Govan Stones and feature crosses and Celtic designs. During the 19th century, 46 stones were found in the churchyard, 31 of which are now housed inside Govan Old Parish Church.
“I wasn’t too sure at the start what it was,” McGettigan added. “But then we checked with the records and we realized it was one of the lost Govan Stones. I am extremely happy, in fact I’m ecstatic at what I helped to uncover.”
Dating back to the ancient Kingdom of Strathclyde, archaeologists say that the Govan Stones shed light on an obscure period in history before Scotland existed. At that time, warlords were fighting for control of the British Isles amid Viking raids.
“This the most exciting discovery we have had at Govan in the last 20 years,” said Stephen Driscoll, professor of historical archaeology at the University of Glasgow, and a member of the Govan Heritage Trust. “The Govan Stones are a collection of international importance and these recovered stones reinforce the case for regarding Govan as a major early medieval center of power”.
The dig at Old Govan Church was carried out by charity Northlight Heritage as part of the 'Stones and Bones' community archaeology project involving Glasgow City Council and the Govan Heritage Trust, which owns the Govan Old Parish Church. The initiative is supported by the U.K.’s National Lottery Heritage Fund.
The stones are the latest fascinating historical find in Scotland. Last year, for example, a medieval structure, believed to be one of the world’s oldest whiskey stills, has been discovered among the ruins of a Scottish abbey.
Also in 2018, researchers on a remote Scottish island found a stone anvil from the mysterious ancient Pictish people.
Elsewhere in Scotland, archaeologists have also been making impressive finds. For example, a treasure trove of ancient artifacts was discovered last year at a fort that archaeologists believe was razed to the ground by Vikings. Experts at the University of Aberdeen made the remarkable finds at Burghead on Scotland’s northern Moray coast. The fort, which was once used by the Picts, is described as the largest of its kind in Scotland.
In 2017, archaeologists and volunteers also found the location of a long-lost early medieval kingdom in southern Scotland. In another project, a rare Roman coin was unearthed on a remote Scottish island.
In 2014, a stunning hoard of ancient silver, believed to have been used as bribes by Romans, was discovered with a metal detector by a teenager in Dairsie, in the Scottish region of Fife.
Experts in Scotland have also used 3-D technology to reconstruct the face of an 18th-century 'witch.'
However, archaeologists in Scotland also recently revealed that a stone circle thought to be thousands of years old is actually a modern replica.
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