175-year-old time capsule opened

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Media captionA time capsule that was discovered in the foundations of a building in Derry opened

A 175-year-old time capsule discovered in Londonderry has been opened to reveal a collection of coins and a damp scroll of paper.

A lead cylinder was found earlier this month in the foundations of a building as part of a planned excavation at Brooke Park.

It contained a glass bottle plugged with a red wax seal.

But the paper inside the bottle was soaked and will now be dried out before it can be unfurled and deciphered.

Image caption A glass bottle plugged with a wax seal was carefully removed from the capsule's lead casing

Conservator Stefanie White prised open the containers, which date from 1839, in front of an audience at the city's Tower Museum.

She removed the coins, one of which was dated 1817, but said the roll of parchment was wet and swollen and would be damaged if it was removed too soon.


The museum's curator Roisin Doherty said the wait would have to go on to read the parchment.

"We have literally unearthed a bit of history," she said.

"We don't know what's on the paper. It's in pretty bad condition, we just need to wait until we stabilise it and then we'll get a bit more information as to what it contains.

"It's a bit frustrating but because it is part of the process of conservation we need to take our time."

Image caption Conservator Stefanie White prised open the containers, which date from 1839, at the Tower Museum

The capsule was discovered within the north-east foundation of Gwyn's Institute, a former orphanage that once stood in the park.

The children's home was built with part of a £40,000 endowment from wealthy city businessman John Gwyn.

According to an article in the Derry Journal in 1839, the paper is thought to contain a list of signatures of local dignitaries, a copy of the act of parliament that established the institution and a copy of a will left by Mr Gwyn.

Ms Doherty said that it was not uncommon for time capsules to be buried with the foundation stone of old buildings in Ireland.

Image caption Among the contents of the time capsule were several coins, with one dating back to 1817

The city council says extensive work will now be carried out to preserve the contents of the capsule, and that they would form a valuable piece in its archive collection.

They will go on display as soon as possible.

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