Workers on a building site in Mullingar in Westmeath uncover an extraordinary archaeological find.

In the heart of Mullingar where a new shopping centre and hotel will stand is at present an archaeological dig. During the course of their excavations at Buckley's car park building workers discovered more than thirty well preserved skeletons, in what seven centuries ago was a monastic graveyard. According to archaeologist Michael Gibbons,

The burials will give us a very unique account of life and times in Mullingar.

On hearing the news that bones had been unearthed developer Jim Buckley contacted the archaeologists who have been working round the clock excavating the remains of mediaeval monks who would have been based at an Augustinian abbey founded in in the town in 1227.

In addition to a life of prayer, penance and work, many of these men were seasoned European travellers. Artefacts including scallop shells found in the graves indicate that a number of monks had made the pilgrimage to Santiago de Compostela in northern Spain. As Bishop of Meath Dr Michael Smith explains,

The shell was associated with Santiago...the greatest of the pilgrimage sites in Europe in the whole Middle Ages.

An RTÉ News report broadcast on 29 October 1996. The reporter is Ciarán Mullooly.