|13 January 2003
9,000-year-old tools uncovered in Northern Ireland
Hunting tools believed to be 9,000 years old have been uncovered during a road development near Toome Bypass (County Antrim, Northern Ireland). The finds are the most significant discovery in the province since a 4,000-year-old grave was discovered during an excavation in the ruins of Newtownstewart Castle in County Tyrone in 1999.
Archaeologist Paul McCooey said: "The finds range from Mesolithic, through Neolithic to Bronze Age right through to a sprinkling of 18th and 19th century finds. These finds have confirmed that this area would have been an ideal home for our early ancestors. These hunter-gatherers concentrated their activities on waterways, foraging on the shores of the seas, lakes and rivers."
Ronnie Faloon, Roads Service, said: "We employed a team of archaeologists to carry out a full examination of the site, and construction work is continuing on schedule. The site has already yielded over 8,000 pieces of flint including small blades called microliths and larger tools used for hunting, and fishing." Other finds made along the Bann at Castleroe, Newferry and now Toome confirm the migration of Mesolithic man up the River Bann to Lough Neagh. A visible shoreline around the west edge of the drumlin confirms that the Mesolithic Lough Neagh was much larger than today's.
"The finds at Toome also include flint tools and shards of decorated pottery from the Neolithic period. Neolithic man built more permanent rectangular dwellings whose foundations show up as linear gullies with stone foundations packed with organic material." said McCooey.
Later activity is evident at the southern end of the drumlin, where several Bronze Age 'fulachta fiadha' have been found. These cooking places were wood-lined troughs dug in the ground and filled with water. Stones, heated in a fire beside the trough, were thrown into the water warming it sufficiently to boil meat.
Sources: 4NI, BBC News (8 January 2003 http://www.4ni.co.uk/, http://news.bbc.co.uk/)
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