Abbey Drain

This underground structure is an archaeological and architectural gem – the great Medieval Abbey Drain is one of Paisley’s best historical assets.

Extending to a length of about 90m, this finely crafted stone-lined 6ft high conduit supposedly took waste material from the Abbey complex to the White Cart river.

In perfect condition, the navigable section – which was discovered in the early 1990s during an archaeological dig – is accessed via a surface manhole cover.

The archaeological investigations of the 1990s also unearthed a wealth of objects including rare specimens of organic material such as wood, leather and plant remains.

Carved slates, some of which exhibit the earliest written polyphonic music discovered in the country, and the largest assemblage of medieval pottery recovered from any site in Scotland were also discovered.

A team of experts spent last summer excavating at Paisley’s Abbey Drain and uncovered a well-preserved 14th-century stone archway marking the exact point the drain and its contents once flowed into the River Cart.

The tunnel – believed to be around 100m long – ends around 3m from the banks of the present-day river, which would have been wider and shallower at the time the drain was built.

While you’re not able to visit the Abbey Drain at this time, you can see footage of last summer’s Big Dig below.

THE BIG DIG 2019 – PAISLEY ABBEY DRAIN from Tony Grace on Vimeo.