Environment Minister Mark H Durkan has announced an extension to the archaeological excavations at Carrickfergus Castle, Ireland’s best preserved Anglo-Norman castle.
Thursday, 6 March 2014
Archaeologists have now completed three weeks of exploratory excavations at this site, as part of the ongoing work by the Department of the Environment to uncover more of the castle’s history and to inform future development of the castle to enhance the visitor’s experience.
The excavations have already revealed new information about how the castle was used over the centuries, particularly its use in the Victorian period. Archaeologists were surprised to discover parts of a 19th-century tunnel extending into the area where the medieval Great Hall once stood. Although the Victorian features have disturbed earlier deposits, they are also allowing archaeologists to dig a little deeper into the site and uncover substantial remains of what look like medieval walls.
It is for this reason that the excavations are being extended, so that these very early features, as well as the later works, are more fully recorded.
Environment Minister Mark H Durkan said: “The discoveries that the archaeologists have already made at the castle are very impressive and further reinforce my belief in the importance of using archaeology excavations to inform our rich heritage history.
“From the Victorian works through to medieval pottery from Carrickfergus, Britain and even France, these finds will help bring this site to life. The extension to the initial three week excavation period will make sure as much of this information is gathered as possible so that it is included in the future visitor experience at the site.
“This work is a tremendous opportunity to find out more and strengthen the unique heritage offering to all visitors to this and our other treasured historic monuments.”
The results of the digs will help guide how the areas are presented to the public and how these areas can be used in the future. The work is part of a wider Northern Ireland Environment Agency heritage-led development initiative and will help guide how more of the castle can be opened up and improved for visitor access and learning.
Although the excavations will be fenced off for safety purposes, visitors to Carrickfergus Castle will still be able to view the excavations as they take place and see what the archaeologists are uncovering.
The Centre for Archaeological Fieldwork, Queen’s University Belfast is carrying out the excavations in Carrickfergus Castle on behalf of the Northern Ireland Environment Agency.
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