On the 19 May 1955, three men: James Hepburn, James Porteous and James McCormick, were engaged in digging a trench for a sewer between Burns Road and Minerva Lane, Braeside, Greenock when they unearthed what appeared to be a cow horn around four feet below the surface. The horn, measuring approximately ten inches long, appeared to be hollow albeit for a tattered cloth nesting a small collection of sixteenth century coins.
Unfortunately, the horn disintegrated as a result of the elements in turn with a number of the coins. Several other coins were handed to local children as a gift, while the fifty remaining coins were handed over to the Procurator Fiscal for examination. The coins were found to be of Scottish origin, dating to 1543 during the reign of Queen Mary through to the reign of James VI.
The location of the coins is varied with around twenty being retained by the Royal Scottish Museum in Edinburgh. However approximately thirty coins have become part of the collections at Greenock’s McLean Museum where they are available for viewing.
Involvement with Local School
In order to highlight the coin collection at the McLean museum, the Identity team at 7 ½ John Wood Street have been working closely with pupils from Glenburn School, exploring the story of the coins through ideas proposed by the pupils in order to produce a graphic adaptation.
On Monday March 19, members of the Identity team visited the Mclean Museum along with a group of nine pupils from Glenburn School in order to get a closer look at the coins. The students and members of the team met with the curator who allowed them to look at and handle the coins and they were asked to draw a picture of their favourite.
Once the pupils had finished investigating the coins and drawing the pictures, they reflected positively about the exhibition:
"It’s really interesting that they found the coins so close to our school."
"I liked the Queen Mary Bawbee, it looks like a 20p."
"Maybe someone put the coins there for safety, and forgot to go and get them later."
"I liked drawing the pictures."
"I enjoyed looking at the coins through the magnifying glass, you could see all the pictures on them."
"The letters are different on them. It’s really hard to see without a magnifying glass."
"I really liked looking at the coins, they looked really old."
In order to add a greater insight to the coin hoard, we have highlighted the area where the coins were found on a few maps. The first map is a modern day aerial view of Burns Road and Minerva Lane, Braeside where the coins were found.
Below is a map dating from the nineteenth century showing the rough location of where the coins were found. As you can see there is very little in the way of development in the area.
Greenock Looks Ahead
Below is a short excerpt from a video entitled "Greenock looks ahead" which shows the plans for the development of this region.
Unfortunately there are no maps available from the period when the coins were believed to be buried. What we do know is that the land was owned by the DeLindsay family as part of the Dunrod Estate.
The Story of the Coins
As there as little or no evidence of how the coins came to be buried. Local school pupils have been working closely with the Identity team to create a a story which would later be made in to a graphic novel, telling the tale of how the coins came to be buried. Below are a few example pages, one of which has been coloured in by a pupil at one of our many workshops.