Derry dig continues to unearth history

UNEARTHED THIS WEEK... Does this find which appears to includes a sculpted face - two eyes, a beard and a mouth - represent a monk?
UNEARTHED THIS WEEK... Does this find which appears to includes a sculpted face - two eyes, a beard and a mouth - represent a monk?

Amazing historic finds continue to be unearthed at an archaeological dig in Derry’s city centre.

This week, diggers - of the two legged variety - have been discovering different types of medieval pottery - and lots of it!

Among the haul has been Scottish greyware dating to the 14th/15th century and sherds of everted rimware, probably from the 16th-17th century.

The prize find on Tuesday was a rim sherd and top of a handle with a sculpted face: two eyes, a beard and a mouth. There was also a circular impression on the top of the ‘head’. The dig team are wondering if this is a representation of a monk.

A corroded metal key was also unearthed at the car park site located next to St Augustine’s Church.

A spokesperson for the team remarked: “We continued to mattock downwards and to hoist and sieve buckets of spoil.

“We have worked down through a couple of different layers in our box-trench with no discernible features present but also with no tobacco pipe stems or musket shot or post-medieval pottery present.

“The absence of these finds and presence of medieval pottery throughout suggests that we must be in deposits dating to the phase of the Augustinian monastery.”

Earlier in the week - but with the clock ticking - the team decided to open a trench within a trench.

“This will, hopefully, allow us to identify the depth of archaeology that survives here and the nature and date-range of that archaeology.”

Meanwhile, ribbed glass found recently has been dated to the late 13th to 14th century and identified as coming from a goblet.

The team has also uncovered an area of burning, cut through by the burials, and associated with a large stone - a possible hearth stone.

This is a piece of dressed stone with a pecked surface and presumably is reused - possibly from the monastery.

Just last week, Environment minister Mark H Durkan extended the duration of the dig by two weeks.

During a visit to the site, Minister Durkan said the discoveries being unearthed were “very exciting”.

The dig has already uncovered human burials from the seventeenth century.