There are millions of historical secrets still hiding beneath the streets of Derry.
So says Brian Lacey, author of the Discover Derry, Guildhall Press’ reprint of the historical story of our city from the sixth century to the present day.
Updated with contributions from well-known local historian Michael McGuinness, the 2011 reprint includes places from Derry’s more modern history - Creggan Country Park, local murals, the Gasyard Centre, the Millennium Forum, Culturlann Ui Chanain, the Ilex sites and the Guildhall Press amongst many others.
Brian - a Dublin born adopted son of Derry who founded the Tower Museum - may well have recorded our visible history in his beautifully presented book but he says the city has many more secrets to reveal.
“We haven’t even scratched the surface in this city,” says Brian.“There are some sites here which hold ancient treasures from medieval Derry. The areas around Long Tower Chapel, St Columb’s Cathedral, St Brecan’s Church in St Columb’s Park and even the car park at Bishop Street are surely holding a wealth of treasures from ancient Derry. Geophysical surveys - simple x-ray type scans of the grounds - around these places would give us an idea of what we’re dealing with.”
Brian lectured at Magee University in the 1970s. There he lead a excavation team who searched sites around the city centre, often times going into bomb sites to sift through the rubble for ancient artefacts.
“Derry is an extremely important historical city,” he says. “There’s an extraordinary amount of material still to be found. For example around the walls there’s a huge ditch - 30ft by 10ft - which houses the city’s rubbish. Ancient rubbish is the modern archeolgist’s treasure. It’s all still there.”
Discover Derry explores the history of Derry through key events, including the founding of the Early Christian monastery, the first English invasion, the Siege of Derry, emigration, the war years and the violent conflicts and Troubles of the twentieth century and visits Derry’s most interesting buildings, landmarks and vistas, old and new.
Discover Derry is available in good local bookshops and from Guildhall Press priced at £9.95. See www.ghpress.com for further details and to purchase book.