New book unearths lost settlement of Dunnalong

1600s... Reconstruction drawing of Dunnalong Fort and Irish settlement.
1600s... Reconstruction drawing of Dunnalong Fort and Irish settlement.

‘The Lost Settlement of Dunnalong’ is a fascinating new book telling the story of an archaeological dig which took place in a quiet townland just miles from Derry.

The dig aimed to explore the remains of a fortified stronghold dating to 1600 and built on the site of an earlier Gaelic Castle.

The book’s official launch, which took place on Wednesday night in Strabane, formed part of the “Plantation to Partition” project.

This is a PEACE III collaborative programme, led by Derry City Council in partnership with the Foyle Civic Trust’s Landscape Project which carried out the archaeological dig and marine survey at Dunnalong, Co. Tyrone, last summer.

Margaret Edwards, Education Officer with the Heritage & Museum Service of Derry City Council, explained that the normally quiet townland on the shores of the River Foyle was a hive of activity when it became the focus of the archaeological survey and dig.

Liam Campbell, Foyle Civic Trust, said that the main purpose of the dig and the survey was to uncover the past heritage in a unique and interactive way by bringing people together to share their history and gain a better understanding of its legacy.

The community dig successfully brought people together to engage directly with the past and feel a sense of connection and ownership to their local heritage.

He said: “The professional archaeologists were helped by a group of local volunteers made up of participants on the PEACE III ‘Plantation to Partition’ programme as well as members of the public.

“The volunteers enjoyed themselves on the dig and many of the most important artefacts were found by them, too.”

Margaret Edwards said the cross-community and cross-border archaeological dig at Dunnalong had been a great success, particularly in terms of community engagement and creating access to our local heritage.

One of the participants who took part in the community dig said: “It was good to get a chance to literally sift through the soil looking for evidence of the past. I have been really inspired by this experience and can’t wait to take part in another dig.”

Joe Mahon, of ‘Lesser Spotted Ulster’ fame, officially launched the book at the Alley Theatre.