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Schoolboy finds lost piece of Glasgow’s Govan Stones

Mark McGettigan, 14, found the first of three lost medieval sculptured stones.

Discovery: Mark McGettigan found the long-lost gravestones. STV

A Scots teen has helped uncover long-lost gravestones from the Middle Ages during a community archaeology dig in Glasgow.

Mark McGettigan volunteered to help the Stones and Bones dig at Govan Old Parish Church and found what turned out to be the first of three lost medieval sculptured stones.

The 14-year-old, who signed up to take part with his mother Sandra, was helping with the survey of the area and felt something solid below the surface.

His discovery turned out to be part of the Govan Stones collection, dating back to the 10th or 11th century, featuring crosses and Celtic interlace designs.

The S3 pupil from Lourdes Secondary School told STV News: “I’ve always been interested in history from a young age, and I’ve read a lot of books and documentaries – so archaeology seemed the closest job to kind of match with history.

“This was the first ever dig I’ve ever been involved in.”

The schoolboy discovered the gravestones with the first probe he put into the ground.

He said: “I wasn’t quite sure at first. I was over the moon that I found it obviously – the first dig and it was actually my first probe that I’d put in so I was really happy and proud of that.”

He added: “Once we identified it, it was incredible.

“It’s good to hear the history of Scotland and try and add some bit of history to it.”

The youngster has now caught the archaeology bug.

He added: “I’ll definitely be continuing in archaeology, no way I’m changing it now.”

History: Mark McGettigan has caught the archaeology bug. STV

During the 19th century 46 stones were found in the graveyard with 31 of them taken into the church for safe keeping.

The remaining stones were displayed against the wall of the churchyard by the Harland and Wolff shipyard which was demolished in 1973 – leading experts to believe the stones were also destroyed.

It is believed many of the stones survived, including the ones found in the community dig.

Professor Stephen Driscoll, the University of Glasgow’s professor of historical archaeology and part of The Govan Heritage Trust, called it the most exciting discovery in Govan in the past 20 years.

He added: “The Govan Stones are a collection of international importance and these recovered stones reinforce the case for regarding Govan as a major early medieval centre of power.

“The discovery is very timely because the Govan Heritage Trust is embarking on a major refurbishment of Govan Old, which will culminate in a redisplay of the collection.

“In the coming months we look forward to continuing this community archaeological work to locate the other lost stones to assess their condition from a conservation perspective and to consider how best to secure their long-term future.”


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