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Canada: Mysterious underground vault discovered on grounds of N.S. legislature

Archaeologists expected the land surrounding Province House in downtown Halifax to be fertile ground for finding artifacts, but they never expected to uncover an underground stone vault roughly the size of a living room.

“It was a total surprise to the archaeologists and the construction crew,” said April MacIntyre, principal archaeologist, in recalling the work she supervised over three months last summer and fall.

The structure was discovered Aug. 7 during part of the work to remodel the grounds surrounding the Nova Scotia legislature.

Crews had already dug a series of trenches to install a new electrical system and run audio and video cables, when a backhoe hit what was assumed to be bedrock near the corner of Prince and Hollis streets in front of the Joseph Howe statue.

“When they tried to break up the bedrock, it very quickly fell away,” said MacIntyre.

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

In MacIntyre’s recently filed report to the government, she described the mysterious chamber as “a subterranean stone-walled feature measuring approximately six metres north-south by four metres east-west and approximately three metres high to the top of the silt that has collected on the floor.”

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