Renfrewshire Council

Paisley Abbey Drain

Centuries-old mystery of Abbey Drain to be explored this summer

It's a centuries-old mystery underneath Paisley town centre - and it could be solved this summer when a team of experts carry out the biggest exploration yet of Paisley's unique medieval Abbey Drain.

The intricate underground structure is believed to have carried material from Paisley's 850-year-old Abbey to the nearby River Cart - but no one has ever established where and how it met the river.

Now, a team of archaeologists will excavate an area next to Abbey Close to try to answer that - with the hope their findings could help the drain become a bigger visitor attraction in future.

The two-month project (running from May until July) is being managed by Renfrewshire Council and includes an extensive programme of activity to involve the local community.

The dig is being run by Guard Archaeology with volunteers from Renfrewshire Local History Forum, supported by funding from the National Lottery Heritage Fund and Historic Environment Scotland.

Paisley's Abbey Drain is an ornate underground passageway, around 100m long and believed to be more than 700 years old, which was discovered in the 19th century and rediscovered in the 1990s.

Previous archaeological digs have revealed carved slates featuring the earliest written polyphonic music - and largest collection of medieval pottery - ever found in Scotland.

Community activity planned for during the Big Dig will include a series of short films and a documentary made by students from the University of the West of Scotland, school visits, volunteering opportunities, and free talks and workshops for the general public.

The drain itself won't be accessible to the public during the dig - but there will be a chance for residents and visitors to go inside it, as in previous years, during Doors Open Day in September.

You will be able to keep up to date with the Big Dig and see the full programme of activity via