On the 9th of August, the medieval drain at Paisley Abbey was added to the Schedule of monuments protected under the Ancient Monument and Archaeological Areas Act of 1979, a recognition of the national significance of the site. This is the first in a number of monuments in Renfrewshire, Inverclyde and East Renfrewshire to be added to the list, following visits by Historic Scotland's Scheduling Team last summer. The earliest sections of this large and impressive stone drain, constructed to carry waste water through the precinct of Paisley Abbey, were probably constructed between 1350 and 1400, with the rest mostly built between 1400 and 1500. Silts that date to the 15th century still lie within parts of the drain, and these contain artefacts, plant and animal remains that provide valuable information on the daily lives, diet and general health of the occupants of the Abbey.
There have been a number of previous excavations in and and around the drain, the most recent being conducted last year by GUARD, assisted by volunteers from the Renfrewshire Local History Forum (See WoSAS Event 4248 for details). Following the success of this excavation, GUARD hope to carry out a further small archaeological investigation at Paisley Abbey Drain, again in collaboration with Renfrew Local History Forum, Renfrewshire Council and Paisley Museum, to coincide with the "Doors Open Day" weekend of 11-12 September 2010. As with last year's excavation, it is hoped that the work will be carried out by volunteers under the supervision of GUARD staff.
From the results of last year's excavation and a survey of the interior of the drain carried out by the RCAHMS , it is known that the top of the exterior of the drain lies approximately one metre below the present ground level. In addition, the RCAHMS survey identified possibly side drains running into the main drain and the location of a medieval manhole. The aim of this season's excavation would therefore be to hand excavate a small trench over the drain at the location of one of the side drains, to investigate the exterior surface of the drain and the location of the side drain. Similarly, the excavation last year uncovered the walls and foundations of tenement building immediately below the surface, and these deposits would also be investigated. This proposal has still to be fully discussed with Historic Scotland and Renfrewshire Council and at the moment full funding is not in place, but it is hoped that further details on how volunteers can participate in this project will be released shortly.