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18/07/2011

Archaeological Exhibition Showcases Dunluce

A new exhibition at Co Antrim's Dunluce Castle is showcasing its history - as well as many of the archaeological finds discovered there in recent years.

Dunluce Castle, which is managed by the Northern Ireland Environment Agency (NIEA), is a key visitor destination on the Causeway Coastal Route. It is one of the premier tourist attractions in Northern Ireland, attracting over 80,000 visitors per year – many from overseas.

Stormont Environment Minister Alex Attwood and Tourism Minister Arlene Foster has opened the new exhibition and associated interpretation were co-funded by NIEA and the Northern Ireland Tourist Board under the Tourist Development Scheme.

Tourism Minister Arlene Foster said: "This fascinating exhibition brings the history of this impressive castle to life. Tourists from all over the world are captivated by the stunning scenery of the north coast and now they will have even more reason to find out more about the area’s history and culture. It will also give domestic tourists the opportunity to find out more about their local surroundings.

"Investing in our tourism infrastructure and promoting our unique attractions will further boost our tourism industry, which will bring economic benefits to the whole of Northern Ireland."

Speaking at the launch Minister Attwood said: "Dunluce has a fantastic story to tell, full of intrigue, plotting and rebellion. This new exhibition makes the turbulent history of the Castle accessible to everyone and shows what daily life would have been like for those living here in the early 1600s.

"It also displays some of the superb finds from the archaeological excavations carried out in the Lost Town of Dunluce over the last three summers.

"Just last month archeologists unveiled new discoveries from the town, including the footings of several stone and wooden houses, a beautifully preserved roadway, jewellery and pottery. We hope to have some of these archeological gems on display here soon.

"I am hoping to make progress in acquiring the lands that make up the lost village of Dunluce and explore / exhaust potential heritage and other funding to open up this little piece of Pompeii on the Antrim coastline," he said.

The History Room at the exhibition uses video and a number of information panels to tell the fascinating history of the Castle particularly the rivalry and treachery between local families MacQuillans and MacDonnells and the English crown.

An Archaeology Room shows how archaeological excavation can inform people about the history of their local area. It also demonstrates the work of NIEA in recording and interpreting the Castle and the built heritage of Northern Ireland.

New interpretation panels and video display screens have been installed to illustrate the Castle's history and how it would have looked when occupied in the early 1600’s.

Digital handsets containing an audio tour of the Castle will also bring the past alive for visitors including the many families who visit the site.

Encouraging people to visit the exhibition, Minister Attwood said: "The fascinating information provided in the new exhibition is based on the latest research and uses modern technology to unfold the story of the Castle and those who lived there.

"Even if you have visited the Castle many times before, the new exhibition makes it well worth another visit and an ideal destination for those visiting Northern Ireland."

(GK/BMcC)

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