29/04/2004

Artefacts dating back 4,000 years found in Londonderry

Artefacts dating back around 4,000 years have been uncovered by archaeologists in Londonderry.

The team, led by John O'Neill from Queen's University, was working on a Bronze Age lake settlement at Ballyarnet, when they found large quantities of decorated pottery, flint arrowheads and scrapers, hammerstones, fishing weights and grinding stones.

According to Mr O'Neill, the investigation, which was carried out earlier this month, revealed that the substantial lake settlement may have only been occupied during a relatively short period of time.

"The settlement, which dates from 1700-1500 BC, was over 20 metres in diameter and is located close to the edge of the lake, within fenlands," Mr O'Neill said. "It is situated on top of 4.5 metres of peat and was buried by later peat formation, providing a sealed time capsule, unlike many excavations where artefacts from different periods can become intermixed by later activity."

He also revealed that initial construction saw the deposition of layers wood and upright posts, and subsequent occupation saw the use of various hearths and stone surfaces.

"Many of the finds suggest that it is a high status site," he added.

The excavation was funded by Environment and Heritage Service (Department of the Environment, NI) and took place with permission of the land owners, Derry City Council.

The excavation crew was drawn from volunteers from the United States, students from Exeter University under Dr. Bruce Bradley and staff from QUB.

(MB)

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