Student uncovers buried treasure

SERC students Matthew Nicholl and Brian Murray show off their buried treasure which includes a Belfast Telegraph from 1929, which they found when working at the old Newcastle Campus, also pictured is SERC staff member Tom Trainor
SERC students Matthew Nicholl and Brian Murray show off their buried treasure which includes a Belfast Telegraph from 1929, which they found when working at the old Newcastle Campus, also pictured is SERC staff member Tom Trainor

PIRATES and buried treasure might be the stuff of fairy tales and legends, but for one group of students, buried treasure is exactly what they found.

South Eastern Regional College (SERC) student’s Matthew Nicholl from Ballynahinch and Brian Murray from Downpatrick, were part of a team of students who were tasked with removing sandstone blocks from the old SERC Newcastle campus, to relocate them to the new campus.

However once the first block was removed the students discovered their treasure. One of the sandstone blocks had been hollowed out by the workmen who built the original campus in 1929 and inside had placed five coins from the period, and a perfectly persevered Belfast Telegraph from the August 12th 1929, the day the blocks were laid.

Matthew said, “It was hard to believe what we were seeing, we found everything wrapped up to keep it protected, whoever put it there must have known it would be there for a long time before it was found.”

The students are part of the Colleges Training for Success group, who currently don’t have placements and therefore SERC has organised a number of local projects to help them get the practical skills and employment experience, they will need whenever they finish their course.

SERC Technical Officer, Tom Trainor, who was with the students as they worked on the project, explains, “We came up here to give the students the experience of extracting this type of material and also give them a chance to help design a new garden at the Newcastle Campus, instead they have all got experience in archaeology.”

The treasure trove will now be put on display in the Newcastle Campus so that staff, students and members of the public can see the artefacts that they all have walked past unawares for over 83 years.