Walls lecture to launch new archeological research fund

The Dean of Derry, Rev Dr William Morton (centre) with solicitor, Philip Gilliland (left) and the Chairperson of the Friends of the Derry Walls, Niall McCaughan. (STEPHEN LATIMER PHOTOGRAPHY.)

The Dean of Derry, Rev Dr William Morton (centre) with solicitor, Philip Gilliland (left) and the Chairperson of the Friends of the Derry Walls, Niall McCaughan. (STEPHEN LATIMER PHOTOGRAPHY.)

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A new fund to support archeological research in Derry will be launched this weekend at a lecture focusing on a key event 400 years ago.

The Walls 400 History Lecture has been organised by Friends of the Derry Walls and will be delivered on Saturday evening at 7 pm at St Columb’s Cathedral by Maynooth University Professor Raymond Gillespie.

Prof. Gillespie will focus on the Great Northern Plot of 1615. He will unpack events which took place in Co.Derry and the half-built Plantation city, exactly 400 years ago.

All proceeds from the lecture will go to the establishment of a Walled City Archaeology Fund. Explaining the background to the new initiative, Mark Lusby, Project Co-ordinator with the Friends of the Derry Walls, said: “Most strategic digs in Northern Ireland are funded by the Department of the Environment, mainly through grants to Queens and Ulster University, but given the pressure on Executive funds the scale of this work is likely to be reduced. A locally-managed archaeology fund could help prioritise future government-funded strategic investigations towards the Walled City and towards the neighbourhoods around the Derry Walls.”

Mr Lusby said that with regards to the new fund, specific priorities for future archaeological investigation “will have to be agreed with sister local heritage organisations, site owners, the university archaeology units and the Department of the Environment”.

“However,” he added, “key gaps in our knowledge include the extent of the Sally Port tunnel under the Derry Walls; the precise location of the Dry Moat which used to encircle the outside the City Walls in the present-day Fountain Estate and along Nailor’s Row; and the nature of the building foundations revealed by Fr William Doherty in 1905 at the Long Tower. A locally-managed fund could commission geophysical surveys, helping to make the case for more substantive archaeological investigations.”