6,000 artefacts discovered at Drumclay crannog dig

An archaeological dig in Northern Ireland has uncovered about 6,000 artefacts, dating back to as early as the seventh century A.D. A public meeting was held yesterday in Enniskillen, Co. Fermanagh to reveal new details about the Drumclay crannog dig.

floor of a house discovered at Fermanagh Crannog - photo courtesy Department of the Environment

The site was discovered in 2012 as part of road construction in Fermanagh. Drumclay crannog was inhabited from about the year 670 AD until the early seventeenth-century. Archaeologists spent nearly a year examining the crannog, which is an artificial island built of various materials such as stone, clay, timber and brushwood to form a platform capable of supporting houses.

Northern Ireland’s Environment Minister, Mark H. Durkan, explained “There have been relatively few excavations of crannogs in Ireland and the excavation at Drumclay proved to be one of the most important of its type that has taken place in Ireland for decades.

“Occupation of Drumclay spanned over 1,000 years from the seventh to the early seventeenth century. Due to the water-logging of the site there have been exceptional discoveries and superb preservation of organic material including the remains of more than 30 wooden houses. Thousands of finds have been recovered including objects of bone, textile, glass, amber, pottery, metal and stone. Wooden and leather artefacts, not usually found on excavations of most dry-land sites were also unearthed.

“The rich quality of the excavated remains from Drumclay will reshape our understanding not just of this site but that of crannogs across these Islands and medieval settlements in Europe as a whole.”

Among the 30 houses discovered at Drumclay crannog it was found that earliest ones where rectangular in shape, and that circular designs came later. Workshops belonging to blacksmiths and carpenters were also found. Among the artefacts unearth at the site were 3000 pieces of pottery, 127 copper alloy dress pins and 34 combs. Amber and glass beads were also discovered, as well as a gold ring.

Last year archaeologists announced that the body of a teenage girl was found at the site. She had lived in either the 15th or 16th century, was buried outside of a regular graveyard and was slightly disarticulated. It has been speculated that she might have been the victim of foul play and was buried in a clandestine fashion.

More research still needs to be carried out on the artefacts, including studying the animal bones and how best methods to conserve these objects.

See also our earlier article: Archaeological dig in Northern Ireland uncovers huge haul of medieval artefacts

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