(Photos: Peter Allan)
Discovering an old time capsule in a location that has been well-documented is exciting enough, but how about finding one in a totally random manner, exactly where it was stashed? That's what happened this month to Peter Allan, a plumber in Scotland who zeroed in on the precise location of a 135-year-old time capsule that was beneath the floorboards of a house he was working on. Allan told BBC Scotland that he made a cut in the house's wood floor while looking for pipes and was surprised to find a glass whisky bottle with a note inside. Allan says, "The room is 10 feet by 15 feet and I had cut exactly around the bottle without knowing it was there. I can't quite believe it."
Allan promptly took the time capsule to the home's resident, Eilidh Stimpson who was delighted to share the news with her young children, ages 8 and 10. Stimpson says, "...I told them a message in a bottle had been found in our house and they were really excited and thought it was maybe treasure."
Stimpson says she painstakingly tried to extract the delicate note through the neck of the Victorian-era bottle with tweezers, but the paper was tearing. So, a hammer was used to break the bottle and free the contents. She says, "I feel absolutely terrible breaking a 135-year-old bottle but it was the only way to reach the note. I've kept all the pieces in a Tupperware tub." Stimpson says, "We were all crowded around, pointing torches at it, and trying to read it, it was so exciting."
The time capsule revealed a message signed by two male workers at the house. It read, "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." Stimpson's relative did a little digging of their own and according to the 1881 census, both men lived in Edinburgh's Newington district, just a few miles from Stimpson's home. As for plumber Peter Allan, he can't quite figure out what lead him to his serendipitous find.