Renovating an older home isn’t only a big job for construction reasons. Often, objects hidden in the walls hold secrets from when the house was originally built. There could be old coins, postcards, or letters; and sometimes, artifacts are much more valuable than they seem.

That was the case for one renovation worker who came across what appeared to be an ordinary crumpled up piece of paper in the chimney. The man thought it might be trash, but upon closer inspection, he decided to hand it over to a local museum.

What the museum discovered, however, were beyond anything he could have imagined…

While renovating an older home in Aberdeen, Scotland, a construction worker found what he thought to be a ball of old rags. He had a strange suspicion that it could be something more, so instead of throwing it out, he handed it over to the National Library of Scotland.

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When the object arrived at the library, it didn’t seem like anything special. However, upon further inspection, conservationists realized what it really was…

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As it turned out, this artifact was a map dating all the way back to the 17th century!

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Back then, this map was a status symbol for its owner. Only wealthy people could afford a map, especially one as special as this.

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It was huge, measuring seven feet long and five feet wide. In its time, the “Chimney Map,” as the library called it, would have been hung on a wall with great care.

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At first, the map, created by mapmaker George Wildey, was thought to originate in London.

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But upon further inspection, it was discovered that Wildey copied the chimney map off of one from Amsterdam.

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Experts said it was based on a map created by Schenk and Valk, who were popular mapmakers in the 17th century.

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The map from which this one was created required eight sheets of paper and would have needed a substantial amount of space to display it.

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Conservationists feared it’d be impossible to restore the chimney map because it was so badly deteriorated.

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The faces of King William III of England and his wife, Queen Mary, were drawn prominently on the chimney map, which helped conservationists date it at around 1690.

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At that time, William III ruled over Ireland and Scotland, in addition to England.

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Numerous sea battles were also drawn on the chimney map, indicating the Dutch colonization of places like Portugal and China—prominent events of the map’s time.

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Also indicated by drawings on the map is what’s called the Black Legend, or the suffering brought upon indigenous peoples in Latin America by Spanish invaders.

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The map was said to resemble confetti when conservationists first undertook the job of restoring it, and they wondered if they could handle it at all.

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In the 17th century, many Scots fled to the Netherlands—to Amsterdam in particular—seeking religious freedom under King James VII.

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But when William III, ruler of the Dutch Republic, gained the British throne, many Scots put all their faith in him. Later, King William III disappointed the Scots, but on the chimney map, he was reflected as a great hope.

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After a careful and slow restoration process, the library hoped the map would be in great condition for years to come.

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In the future, experts claim we may have a completely different understanding of 17th century Holland…

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The map is worth saving, not only for researchers of today, but those of tomorrow as well.

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This map is proof that what may look like trash at first can actually be a historic artifact in disguise. One never knows what can turn up in the walls of an old house!

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