A 14-year-old student from Lourdes Secondary School named Mark McGettigan was volunteering at an archaeological dig in Glasgow, Scotland, when he made an incredible discovery that relates to the old kingdom. In fact, Professor Stephen Driscoll, who is the University of Glasgow’s Professor of Historical Archaeology and is part of The Govan Heritage Trust, described McGettigan’s finding as “the most exciting discovery we have had at Govan in the last 20 years.”
He uncovered part of the Govan Stones collection that dates back to the Middle Ages. What’s even more incredible is that his findings at Govan Old Parish Church led to the discovery of two additional sculpted gravestones.
These Govan Stones, which are from the 10th and 11th centuries, were lost in history when a shipyard close to the location was destroyed over four decades ago, making archaeologists and historians unsure of their whereabouts. Archaeologists were worried that the decorated stones (with carvings from the ancient Kingdom of Strathclyde) that were once located against a churchyard wall were also destroyed.
As referenced in The Scotsman, “They hail from the time when the area was a political and religious power centre on the Clyde and now form part of the nationally important Govan Stones collection.” During that time period, opposing warlords were fighting to take control of the British Isles as well as against Vikings. In the Kingdom of Strathclyde, Govan was the religious center.
Forty-six stones were discovered in the 19th century and 31 of them were brought to the church, including a sarcophagus which is believed to have had the remains of King Constantine who was also declared a saint.
McGettigan said that he was “ecstatic” when he realized that his discovery was one of the Govan Stones that had gone missing. “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. Myself and two of the archaeologists worked out the area of the object and started to dig it out and clean it. I wasn’t too sure at the start what it was. But then we checked with the records and we realized it was one of the lost Govan Stones,” he told BBC.
Ingrid Shearer of Northlight Heritage who led the archaeological dig said, “Govan Old is the oldest churchyard in Scotland and we hope that this find will give a boost to plans for the future.”