sábado, 17 de marzo de 2012

Excavation Starts At 800 Year Old Mound Of Down

One of Northern Ireland’s most impressive, but mysterious, ancient monuments will shortly reveal its secrets.

Environment Minister Alex Attwood said work has started on trial excavations at the Mound of Down, a monument on the edge of the Quoile marshes on the outskirts of Downpatrick.

The Mound is a huge earthwork with a massive bank and ditch enclosing an area of over three acres. Within the enclosure is a second U-shaped mound around 12.5 metres high, which affords commanding views over the surrounding countryside.

Commenting on the start of the excavation, Alex Attwood said: "The Mound of Down is one of our most important and impressive ancient monuments yet very little is known of its origins or use. One theory is that it was a royal stronghold and that it was built by John de Courcy, the Anglo-Norman knight who led the Norman invasion of Ulster, soon after his victory in the area in 1177. I am hopeful that the Mound will soon begin to give up its secrets and that excavation of the site will reveal why and when it was built. A geophysical survey – familiar to anyone who watches Channel 4’s “Time Team” programme - has already helped to define the excavation trenches.

"A monument of such antiquity and importance deserves to be better known so to help prepare for the excavation, a lot of the vegetation which had covered the site and hidden it from view,has been removed. This has opened up tremendous views from the summit of the Mound and made it more accessible to visitors.

"Further work in 2012 will improve the pathways and new information panels will outline the area’s amazing archaeology and natural heritage attractions."

Mr Attwood also said that this important excavation will provide an excellent opportunity to tell local schoolchildren more about archaeology.

He said: "Students from several local primary schools will have a unique opportunity to see an important “dig” at close quarters and will be able to get involved in a real excavation. After being briefed in the Down County Museum, the students will be able to work – under supervision - in their own trenches. Volunteers form the local branch of the Young Archaeologists Club will also be involved."

Dr John O’Keeffe, Principal Archaeologist in NIEA explained: "The Mound of Down project is an excellent example of how we aim to work with other heritage bodies, such as local councils and universities, as well as local communities, to promote our built heritage. We particularly welcome the chance to work with local schools and interest groups in a practical and enjoyable way."


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