Dunnalong Dig 8 August 2012
Unearthing the history of our shared heritage
Over the next two weeks, Derry City Council, in partnership with the Northern Ireland Environment Agency (NIEA) and the district councils of Strabane, Omagh and Donegal will host an innovative and interactive cross community archaeological dig in Dunnalong, County Tyrone, as part of the ‘Plantation to Partition’ programme funded by the European Union’s PEACE III Programme.
The cross community venture is aimed at examining the historical events, landscape and legacy which have shaped cultural identities and shared heritage in Ulster over the last 400 years. The dig, which follows a number of events and workshops already delivered gathering volunteers and marking the plantation anniversary, will be complemented next month with Ulster Covenant centenary celebrations.
“The delivery of the NIEA managed interactive dig which is now underway is an exciting element of the programme within the PEACE III cluster area,” says Roisin Doherty, Head of Heritage and Museum Service at Derry City Council, “We are hoping that the dig will open up heritage in an interactive way by bringing many of the programme participants together to get a ‘hands on’ experience of their local history. The small townland of Dunnalong was chosen due to it being an area of great historic interest as a site of an early Gaelic fort and one which is steeped in history undergoing tremendous change during the Plantation of Ulster. It has never been excavated and is therefore of great relevance to both archaeologists and historians.”
The two week long dig at the Dunnalong will culminate in a family and community day on Saturday, 18th August, where the participant families will be invited to come along to experience the findings of the archaeological dig. There will be a series of events for all including discussion from representatives of the four councils, presentations from the Northern Ireland Environment Agency (NIEA) as the statutory body responsible for the protecting, preserving and promoting archaeological heritage along with the Centre for Archaeological Fieldwork (CAF) at Queens and the Centre for Maritime Archaeology (CMA) at the University of Ulster. There will be a wide range of local historians available on the day to discuss the findings and the future of the heritage site.
Minister for the Environment, Alex Attwood commented “We are delighted to be collaborating with the two Northern Ireland universities and all the Councils involved in this excavation. Our aim is to ensure that the members of the public involved in the dig have a great time and also learn something new about archaeology and the history of this fascinating site. NIEA is tasked with bringing knowledge of the past to the people of the present. With 2013 approaching fast we hope that this dig can be another positive step in raising the profile of the rich archaeological heritage of the northwest. Further our built and natural heritage is an essential element of our economy and jobs. It will be the biggest part of future increases in tourist numbers and spend.”
Derry City Council is also working the Foyle Civic Trust who as part of their Foyle Landscape Project, have collaborated with NIEA and QUB to undertake the preliminary geophysical surveys of the site to derive a better understanding of the potential archaeological work.
Catherine Cooke, Chairperson, NW PEACE III Partnership said the aim of the project is to reinforce progress and promote reconciliation, “This dig brings the cluster area of the north and west together to promote a renewed emphasis on the shared heritage of these communities. Derry City Council has been working extremely hard along with a number of organisations to deliver this programme including NIEA, CAF at Queens and CMA at the University of Ulster who will carry out analysis on both terrestrial and riverine landscapes at Dunnalong to leave a lasting legacy on the heritage and future of this area.”
Details of the event and the scheduled shuttle bus which can bring members and groups from locations across the cluster to the family fun day on the 18th August, will be available on the website http://www.derrycity.gov.uk/Museums/Events.aspx
For more information contact Bernadette Walsh, Heritage and Museum Service at Derry City Council on 028 71 365151 Ex 8250 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org