No, I don’t mean a clandestine network of people who like to secretly dress in brown and help the poor under the inspiration of the greatest saint the church has ever known. I mean the remains of 15th century Franciscans have been discovered six inches below the surface of a roadway that was being repaved in St Andrews, Scotland. If the discovery turns out to be legitimate, it could mean that the long-lost location of the Franciscan friary in St. Andrews has been found at last:
Archaeologist Douglas Spiers said: “St Andrews is a town of considerable antiquity so we always held the possibility of archaeological remains coming to light in that area as part of the works.
“However, we thought that because they were only reducing the surface by a small margin it wouldn’t be deep enough to disturb anything. Clearly, we were wrong.”
Mr Spiers says the remains should be treated with respect.
He said: “These are human remains in consecrated ground so they must be treated with proper dignity.
“A Franciscan friary is known to have existed somewhere in the near vicinity and because of the order they weren’t buried in the local cemetery but in their own little one.
“The exact footprint of the friary is not known and previous archaeological works in the area have failed to locate it. However, there can be little doubt that the discovery represents part of the cemetery of the friary.”
It is thought that the friary was established in St Andrews in 1458, a relatively late development in medieval St Andrews. It was completed in 1478 but ransacked in 1559, during the reformation.