DoE step in to protect souterrain

The Department of Environment is to protect an ancient hideaway recently uncovered in Co Down.

The monument was discovered by a builder working on a new house at Rooneystown, near Raholp when the ground below his digger gave way exposing what was thought to be a stone tunnel. He realised that the well-built feature might be of historical interest and contacted the Environment and Heritage Service (EHS).

EHS archaeologist Ken Neill visited the site the next day and immediately confirmed that the 'tunnel' was actually a previously unrecorded example of a souterrain, built during the Early Christian period over 1000 years ago.

Mr Neill said: "Souterrains are usually known as caves or coves throughout the countryside. They were underground tunnels built as a refuge against raiders. Some were rock-cut but most were built by digging a trench, lining it with drystone-walling and placing heavy stone lintels across the top before covering with earth. It was one of these lintels which had given way under the weight of the digger to expose the souterrain. Many were built within circular earthen raths or stone cashels, but others, like this one, are discovered in apparent isolation although there was almost certainly originally a house nearby. "

Mr Neil said that the Rooneystown souterrain extended around 11 metres into the hillside, with apparently several other blocked up chambers leading off from it.

He warned anyone discovering a souterrain not to enter it as many were in an unsafe condition particularly as they were often discovered by damage being done to the roof lintels.


Related Northern Ireland News Stories
Click here for the latest headlines.

13 April 2021
£20m Student Accommodation To Be Developed In Belfast
Elkstone Partners has acquired a site on Belfast's Bradbury Place where a £20million purpose-built student accommodation and retail scheme is to be developed. 30-44 Bradbury Place is the first acquisition in Northern Ireland for the Real Estate division of the investment firm.
02 September 2021
Protocol Is Protecting NI From Food Supply Crisis
The Protocol is protecting Northern Ireland from the food supply crisis being witnessed in Britain, Sinn Féin MLA Caoimhe Archibald has said. The East Derry MLA said: "It is unfortunate to see empty supermarket shelves and a widespread supply chain crisis in Britain, as Brexit pressures take hold.
01 September 2021
Ulster Bank Announces New 'Green Re-Mortgage'
Ulster Bank has announced the launch of a new 'green re-mortgage' product, offering a preferential interest rate to new or existing customers who are looking to re-mortgage an energy efficient property. The new product will offer a discounted interest rate to customers re-mortgaging a property with an Energy Efficiency Rating of A or B.
06 October 2014
Man With Machete Robs Bank Customer
A man has robbed a customer at an Ulster Bank on the Shankill Road in Belfast while wielding a machete. The man approached the customer at the north Belfast bank at about 09:40 on Monday morning. The attacker is described as being around 5'9" tall and of stocky build.
15 April 2009
Taxi Operators 'Could Do Better', Says Minister
The majority of taxis and their drivers are meeting their legal requirements, a Driver & Vehicle Agency survey has revealed. NI Environment Minister Sammy Wilson (pictured) welcomed the results of a 2008 survey – the first of its kind in the British Isles - which showed over three quarters of the fleet are complying with the law.