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Community / Letter from Unst stone mason hidden under Inverness market floor discovered five decades later

Photo: Highland Council

A LETTER written by a stone mason from Unst from the 1960s and placed in an empty bottle of vodka underneath the floor of a market in Inverness has been unearthed as the building undergoes renovation.

The letter was left under Inverness’s Victorian Market Hall around five decades ago by Jim Thomson to mark a refurbishment he worked on in 1967.

Found in a small bottle of Smirnoff vodka, it read: “J. T. T. Thomson. Mason. Muness, Uyeasound, Unst, Shetland. Inverness address 40 Denny St. Age 41. Finished building and tiling 20.6.67”

Jim, originally from Haroldswick, married Minnie Hunter from Muness in the early 1950s.

The stone mason worked on many Hydro Electric schemes on the mainland so they relocated to Inverness.

Jim passed away a number of years ago, but Minnie still resides at Denny Street in Inverness.

Robin Hunter, who now lives in Bressay, is Minnie’s double first cousin and said he spent plenty of time with Jim.

He described Jim as a talented stone mason who also worked with ancient monuments.

He also recalled one moment in particular where Jim transformed a “rough” doorstep at the house at Muness.

“I could hardly believe it was the same thing,” Robin said.

He also said leaving a message in a bottle was “just typical” of Jim.

“He was just a tremendous person,” Robin said.

Meanwhile the latest redevelopment of the Market Hall, which first opened 1870, began earlier this year.

Victorian Market manager Jo Murray said: “We expected to find some interesting things at demolition stage of the build, and we were not disappointed.”

She added that the note will be kept safe as a record of the market’s development.