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Author of mysterious message in bottle unearthed in Durham Cathedral is revealed
THE IDENTITY of the man who buried a mysterious message in a bottle in Durham Cathedral a century ago has been revealed - by his granddaughter.
Teresa Armatage said she was overwhelmed with emotion when she learned it was her grandfather, William Raybole, who had penned the intriguing note: “This grave was opened on Sunday May 11th 1913.”
The revelation came after experts carried out a delicate operation under the glare of the media spotlight to ease the message from the bottle last Friday.
The glass vessel was unearthed days earlier by stonemason Steve Mann while relaying the flagstones near the Venerable Bede in the cathedral’s 12th century Galilee Chapel.
A faded note, written on the back of a theatre advert, carried the names Mr W Raybole, Mr W Carter and Mr G Yeoman, bracketed together with the word Grave and what appears to be a capital D.
Mrs Armatage, 78, said: “It was really emotional when I learned it was his name was on the paper.
“We all knew him as Grandpops. He served for many years as a stonemason at the cathedral.
“I don’t know why he would have written the note. They had probably opened a grave by mistake while carrying out work and left the message as a way of easing their consciences.
“I recognise the handwriting, as well. It is almost identical to that of my father and his son, Jack Raybole.”
Mrs Armatage of High Pittington, near Durham, said Mr Raybole had been involved in the historic exhumation of the remains of St Cuthbert in 1899, before they were reburied in their present resting place.
Mr Raybole was badly injured during a raid on Sunderland while serving with 9th Battalion The Durham Light Infantry.
Mrs Armatage said: “He ended up having to have his leg amputated and was fitted with a wooden leg.
“The cathedral was extremely kind to him and the Durham Dene and Chapter Library gave him a job.
“He worked there until he was 80 and was a familiar sight in Durham.
“He would come out of his house in Gilesgate and walk to the old drill hall, where he would rest before going to the Market Place. He would rest again before making the final climb to the cathedral.”
Mrs Armatage added: “It would be fascinating to find out who the other men were. Perhaps they also have family still living in the area.”
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