Mysterious Underground Vault Found on Grounds of Canadian Government Building

February 28, 2019 Updated: February 28, 2019

A mysterious underground vault has been discovered on the grounds of a government building in the Canadian province of Nova Scotia.

Crews digging up parts of the Nova Scotia Legislature grounds last summer as part of a renovation project discovered an astonishing “subterranean stone-walled feature” about the size of a living room, according to a report by CBC.

Principal archeologist April MacIntyre, who supervised the monthslong project to revitalize the Province House garden, told the news outlet that the find was completely unexpected.

‘A Total Surprise’

“There’s no record of anything of that nature being here on the property,” she said. “No indications on maps or any records that we’ve been able to find.”

“It was a total surprise to the archaeologists and the construction crew,” she added.

underground chamber
The mysterious vault was discovered during a project to revitalize the gardens of Province House in Halifax, Nova Scotia, on Aug. 7, 2018. (Province of Nova Scotia)

MacIntyre said she and the members of the construction crew trying to break up what appeared to be bedrock with a backhoe when they made the discovery.

“What we discovered was an open, dry-stone-laid chamber with a semicircular, vaulted-type roof,” she said.

She described the chamber in a report as “a subterranean stone-walled feature measuring approximately 6 meters [19.7 feet] north-south by 4 meters [13.1 feet] east-west and approximately 3 meters [9.8 feet] high to the top of the silt that has collected on the floor.”

Limited Access

No one was unable to enter the vault due to safety concerns, and the only access to examine what was inside was through the hole made by the backhoe.

MacIntyre had about 48 hours to examine the chamber using remote cameras.

beam in underground vault
A beam protruding from a section of the wall with what appears to be reinforcements can be seen on a remote camera image of the underground vault. (Province of Nova Scotia)

A stoneware bottle and ceramic tiles were found on the structure’s vaulted roof, which, according to the report, date back to the 18th or 19th century.

image of the interior of the chamber
Experts said the living room-size structure may have been used to store gunpowder. (Province of Nova Scotia)

MacIntyre said it is unclear what the room was used for, but believes it may have served a military purpose.

“The chamber was not fully explored during the revitalization project, though its construction and dimensions suggest it may have functioned as a powder magazine, perhaps during construction of Province House in 1811 to 1819,” said MacIntyre, in a report to Canadian government officials. “Artifacts on top of the feature date to the very late 18th to first few decades of the 19th century suggesting it was exposed and/or constructed during that time.”

underground chamber
Officials are reviewing the archeological report from the find and are considering further exploration. (Province of Nova Scotia)

1,534 Unearthed Objects

So far, the excavation work has unearthed a total of 1,534 objects, the CBC reported.

Items found include ancient coins, fragments of stemware glasses, decorative ceramic elements from various vessels, porcelain tableware, and pieces of wine bottles.

Structural features revealed in the course of excavation include stone walls, a coal chute, and drain pipes.

MacIntyre has recommended further investigation of the mysterious chamber using ground-penetrating radar.

“Future interpretive endeavors may also be possible and may include further archeological excavation of the feature, though it is believed to be stable at this time and, therefore, essentially mitigated,” she wrote in her report.

“Nova Scotia is home to a vast collection of artifacts that reflect the incredible diversity of our province’s unique culture and heritage,” said Leo Glavine, Nova Scotia’s Department of Communities, Culture and Heritage Minister, in a statement to Fox News. “The discovery at Province House is certainly an exciting one. At this time, staff at Nova Scotia’s Department of Communities, Culture, and Heritage are in the early stages of reviewing the archaeology report and it is too early to determine next steps.”

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