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Remains of 500-year-old bridge found underwater in Vitebsk Oblast


– During an underwater archaeological survey in Lake Nespish in Braslav District, Vitebsk Oblast, divers have discovered a place where a bridge leading to a monastic island once stood, BelTA learned from project manager at the Braslav Regional Development Center Alena Shevchik.

The Monastic Island archaeological project is now underway on the island surrounded by Lake Nespish. Underwater research has recently been undertaken by specialists of the Sea Pegasus diving center. They discovered 24 partially destroyed piles of an old bridge. One of them had to be cut off and sent to a laboratory in order to identify the age of the wood that preserved pretty well. According to divers, the bridge was a sophisticated structure that might be about 500 years old. Researchers could establish not only the location, but also the approximate size of the structure: it was about 100 meters long and some 2 meters wide.

 “It is also possible that the very bridge is still lying somewhere in the silt. If this is confirmed, we will launch a money raising campaign in order to lift the bridge and restore it. Belarus has never seen such projects before,” Alena Shevchik said. 

The Monastic Island project was initiated by the Braslav Regional Development Center. Archaeological digs have been underway on the island of Lake Nespish since 1 August. There are plans to clean up and landscape the island and bring tourists here.

 The monastery, as well as a church and residential housing were built on the island in the 15th century. The monastery owned the lake and several settlements nearby. The island could be reached via two bridges. The monastery was at first inhabited by Eastern Orthodox monks, after that it went into the possession of the Uniate Church. There were not so many monks there, up to ten. In 1832 the monastery was destroyed by a heavy fire. Only an icon of the Virgin Mary preserved. It was discovered on the neighboring island of Svyatoi.

Photos from the Facebook account of the Sea Pegasus diving center. 

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