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Family finds 135-year-old message in a bottle under the floorboards of their ancient home

They had to smash the bottle to get to the fragile paper and they found the message intriguing as well

Family finds 135-year-old message in a bottle under the floorboards of their ancient home
Representative Image Source: Getty Images/Catherine MacBride

Houses built in the previous centuries withhold several secrets and objects that are significant pieces of human history. A Scottish plumber named Peter Allan was working on the heating pipes of a property like this when he discovered something strange under the floorboards. He found an antique bottle with a letter inside and immediately informed the owners. When the bottle was opened by the house's owner, Eilidh Stimpson, and her two children, it uncovered a remarkable message written in 1887.


This message in a bottle, long concealed beneath the floor, is one of the earliest known to have been uncovered. Allan told BBC that the room is "10ft by 15ft" and he had cut around the bottle without knowing of its presence. "I was moving a radiator and cut a random hole to find pipework and there it was, I don't know what happened. I took it to the woman downstairs and said, ‘Look what I've found under your floor.'" 

Stimpson, who lives in Edinburgh with her husband and children, decided to check the bottle when the kids got home from school. The youngsters were overjoyed by the surprise. however, when she picked them up and said she had a surprise, they asked her, "Is it that we are having hot dogs for tea?" The family attempted to retrieve the coiled-up paper within the bottle with tweezers, but this method damaged the fragile sheet. They ultimately decided to smash the bottle with a hammer, making certain to save the bits. She said, "We were all crowding around and pointing torches at it and trying to read it, it was so exciting."



The letter was written by two of the workers who constructed the floor. The room was most likely intended for a domestic worker in 1887. "James Ritchie and John Grieve laid this floor, but they did not drink the whisky. October 6th, 1887. Whoever finds this bottle may think our dust is blowing along the road," reads the note. 

The 135-year-old note has sparked a historical interest. The guys were living in the Newington neighborhood of Edinburgh, just a few miles away from the home with the bottle, according to the 1881 census. Since then, a curator at the National Library of Scotland has advised the family to keep the message in an acid-free pocket. Eilidh said, "I've ordered some pockets and think ultimately we will frame the note with a piece of the bottle such as the neck because it's such an exciting and lovely thing to have."



She stated that they would place a bottle with a new message from the family as well as a transcription of the note back into the hole before it is filled over. They want to carry on this sweet tradition created by two men 135 years ago. She said, "To think it lay there all that time and could have been there forever is just amazing. It's not from just the 70s or something like that, it's so much older, it's very cool." 

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