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Launched in March 2002, our Club was the first to be set up in Northern Ireland as a branch of the York–based Young Archaeologists Club Network.

With about 20 members, and based at Down County Museum, the Club is particularly active in exploring the archaeological sites of County Down, meeting monthly, usually on a Saturday afternoon, and setting off on field trips from the Museum. The Club has also participated in digs, including a day digging on an early medieval rath site near Newry, and helping to excavate the Queen Anne period house at Castleward Estate near Strangford. 

The Club will be returning to Castleward on 27June 2009 to continue the dig. There is also a special 3–day investigation planned for the 1–3 July, when we will have the assistance of archaeologists from the Centre for Archaeological Fieldwork to survey and record a recently cleared medieval church site in Lecale, and visit other sites in the area. This project is open to new members and costs £30 for the 3 days, with transport being provided from Down County Museum to the site each day from 10am –5.30pm. Like the Club itself, this project is open to anyone aged between 8 and 16, and registration includes free 6 month membership of the Club, which is normally £15 per year. 

The investigation is part of a larger project entitled ‘Young People Uncover Strangford Lough’s Archaeology’ which has received almost £10,000 from the Lottery’s Awards for All grant scheme to enable Club members to develop an archaeological trail around the Lough for families, and an exhibition, map and booklet to promote it. The trail is linked to the major ‘Turn O, the Tides’ project exploring the natural and cultural heritage of Strangford Lough. 

Anyone interested should contact Mike King at Down County Museum (028 44615218) for more information or membership forms.

Find out more on the Downpatrick YAC website.