Prehen dig finds ancient flanker and ‘frivolity’

Aerial view of the remains of the flanker uncovered during the dig at Prehen.
Aerial view of the remains of the flanker uncovered during the dig at Prehen.

An anomaly discovered during a wander around the outbuildings at Prehen House may have been a 17th Century historic defensive fort.

The Prehen structure was explored last year by the Northern Ireland Environment Agency and the Queen’s University Centre for Archeological Fieldwork (CAF).

The late local historian Annesley Malley spotted the structure during a walk round the grounds. CAF Archeologist Cormac Sparron said that Mr Malley had noticed a curved outbuilding walls “didn’t look quite right”, and discovered a gun loop. There had been some speculation it may date back to the Plantation, however there was no reference in 17th Century maps or documents to a defensive fortification or bawn at Prehen. Mr Sparron said: “It’s all very unusual and a bit of a problem for us.”

He suggested that the structure- which may have risen to three stories at one stage- may have been built some time in the early post-Plantation years as a defence against attacks but was rendered obsolete after the 1641 Rebellion. “It was a formidable enough structure but whether it actually seen action that we don’t know,” he said.

The site is thought to have been turned into a garden feature by the early 19th Century. Period wine bottles were found nearby, along with pottery from England and clay pipe fragments.“We found evidence of 18th Century fun and frivolity,” Mr McSparron said,