|15 August 2009
5,000 year-old sites found in Derry
Archaeologists have unearthed eight neolithic sites in Derry (Northern Ireland), some more than 5,000 years old. The exciting discoveries were made during work on the new Maydown dual carriageway and include a pair of well-preserved 5,000 years-old Neolithic houses and 4,000 years-old Bronze Age burial places known as 'ring-ditches'. The discoveries also include Bronze age pottery, flint tools and human bones.
Archaeology firm John Cronin & Associates found the ancient remains in recent weeks. They're working on behalf of Lagan Group and Roads Service during work on the A2 Maydown to City of Derry Airport road dualling scheme. The company has confirmed that six of the sites have already been "fully excavated and recorded". "Two Neolithic houses have been excavated near Cloghole Road and were found to be rectangular structures, probably built of very large upright timber posts and planks, with substantial heavy roofs. The discovery of Neolithic houses of this scale is unusual, not many examples have been excavated to date and it is therefore an exciting discovery for this area of Northern Ireland," said Archaeological Site Director, Martin McGonigle.
A large quantity of finds have been retrieved from there including pottery, flint tools and a porcellanite handaxe, all indicating the likely domestic use of the site. The other key find, an extensive ring-ditch measuring around 30 metres in diameter, has been excavated at Longfield. John Cronin & Associates' Project Manager, Kate Robb, said; "Ring-ditches are a Bronze Age burial site where people dug a circular ditch and the cremated remains of humans were buried in pits inside the enclosed circular area and in the ditch." She said the site could cover several generations. Pottery, burnt bone and flint implements had been recovered. Now detailed illustration, environmental analyses, scientific dating and interpretation of the sites is to be undertaken.
Sources: Derry Journal (14 August 2009), Irish Times (15 August 2009)
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