Archaeological dig comes to end

Stuart Alexander and John Carlin refer to one of the maps at the site at Dunnalong outside Magheramason which is at the centre of an archaeological dig. Picture Martin Mckeown. Inpresspics.com. 14.8.12
Stuart Alexander and John Carlin refer to one of the maps at the site at Dunnalong outside Magheramason which is at the centre of an archaeological dig. Picture Martin Mckeown. Inpresspics.com. 14.8.12

A cross community archaeological dig aimed at uncovering the shared history and heritage of communities across the North West will come to a close this weekend.

Over the past two weeks, the dig - organised by the Northern Ireland Environment Agency (NIEA) and Derry, Strabane, Omagh and Donegal councils - has been ongoing at Dunnalong, County Tyrone, as part of the ‘Plantation to Partition’ programme.

The site at Dunnalong outside Magheramason which is at the centre of an archaeological dig. Picture Martin Mckeown. Inpresspics.com. 14.8.12

The site at Dunnalong outside Magheramason which is at the centre of an archaeological dig. Picture Martin Mckeown. Inpresspics.com. 14.8.12

“We are hoping that the dig will open up heritage in an interactive way by bringing many of the programme participants together to get a ‘hands on’ experience of their local history,” says Roisin Doherty, Head of Heritage and Museum Service at Derry City Council.

“The small townland of Dunnalong was chosen due to it being an area of great historic interest as a site of an early Gaelic fort and one which is steeped in history undergoing tremendous change during the Plantation of Ulster.

“It has never been excavated and is therefore of great relevance to both archaeologists and historians.”

The two week long dig at the Dunnalong will culminate in a family and community day tomorrow, where the participant families will be invited to come along to experience the findings of the archaeological dig.

There will be a series of events for all including discussion from representatives of the four councils, presentations from NIEA as the statutory body responsible for the protecting, preserving and promoting archaeological heritage along with the Centre for Archaeological Fieldwork (CAF) at Queens and the Centre for Maritime Archaeology (CMA) at the University of Ulster.

Environment Minister Alex Attwood says the dig has a number of aims.

“NIEA is tasked with bringing knowledge of the past to the people of the present. With 2013 approaching fast we hope that this dig can be another positive step in raising the profile of the rich archaeological heritage of the North West.

“Further, our built and natural heritage is an essential element of our economy and jobs. It will be the biggest part of future increases in tourist numbers and spend.”

You can get more information online at www.derrycity.gov.uk/Museums/Events.aspx