Budding Lara Croft’s and Indiana Jones’ are being given the opportunity to take part in an archaeological dig to unearth a mysterious site next to the grounds of Paisley Abbey.

The Paisley “Wee Dig 2017” will take place between 18 and 24 September 2017. This significant heritage-led regeneration project will see a previously unexplored part of the Abbey Drain 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.

The north west side of the building. Original source – black & white 3½” x 5½” photograph

As part of the week-long programme of events a series of interactive workshops will be held with a number of local 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. Visuals of the Paisley Abbey Drain will be featured to allow visitors to see what is under the area of the dig site.

Renfrewshire Council has been awarded £10,000 from the Heritage Lottery Fund’s (HLF) Stories, Stones and Bones programme as part of the Year of History, Heritage and Archaeology to conduct a ‘Wee Dig’ of part of the Abbey Drain site.

The 12th century Abbey is renowned not only for its outstanding architecture but also as 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 Drain.

Community groups and members of the public will be able to participate in the Wee Dig on Friday 22 and Saturday 23 September with a programme of events, workshops and talks laid on between 10.30am – 3pm on each day. Consultant archaeologists Guard Archaeology Ltd will also be on hand to answer questions from members of the public.

School children from across Renfrewshire will also get the chance to be part of the Wee Dig. Pupils from Williamsburgh Primary School, East Fulton Primary School and Kilbarchan Primary School will attend separate workshop sessions on site earlier in the week.

Renfrewshire Council Depute Leader, Cllr Jim Paterson said: “The ‘Wee Dig 2017’ will help bring archaeology to life not only for the school children attending the workshops but also for members of the public who have an interest in learning more about their town.

“This project celebrates our unique heritage – one of the main themes of our Paisley Town Centre Action Plan 2016 – 2026 which aims to regenerate the town centre and create jobs.”

Commenting, 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.”

Consultant archaeologists Guard Archaeology Ltd will be supported all week by volunteers from the Renfrewshire Local History Forum.