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Building found pre-dating Derry's walls

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« on: January 24, 2015, 10:43:40 pm »

Building found pre-dating Derry's walls
Published Thursday, 22 January 2015

A building pre-dating the walled city of Derry has been discovered by archaeologists.

Two clay pipes found from the excavation.
A two-sided comb.
A selection of artefacts from the Society Street excavation. The two bottles at either end of the collection are almost complete, and it is rare that vessels in such excellent condition are found on archaeological sites.
Archaelogical finds in Derry Gallery
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A collection of artefacts was also unearthed during the eight week dig in the area formerly occupied by the Walker Memorial Garden on Society Street.

The earliest find was a sherd of medieval pottery dating to AD1200-1400. Also found were musket balls, a small cannon ball, and clay pipes.

Only a very small part of the building has survived - it is believed to have been burnt down during the O'Doherty rising of 1608.

It had stone foundations and a cellar. The upper floors were constructed of timber.

When the building burnt down, its wooden walls and slate roof collapsed into the cellar where they have now been found just over 400 years later.

A number of intact wine bottles were discovered which the Department of Environment described as "a rarity on archaeological excavations."

The dig, undertaken by archaeology firm Gahan and Long under licence from the Northern Ireland Environment Agency (NIEA), was a requirement of planning conditions ahead of the new Apprentice Boys of Derry's visitor centre.

Environment Minister Mark Durkan said: "This is a truly exciting and important discovery. Archaeologists working for the Apprentice Boys have uncovered the earliest dated building in Derry and it is fitting that some of the artefacts uncovered will now go on display in the new museum.

"The building's alignment is east-west and has been dated to the early 1600s. The east-west alignment is radically different to our present day Walled City street pattern.

"This clearly shows the building reflects the earlier street pattern based on the ecclesiastical settlement that pre-existed the plantation town of Londonderry.

"The building was burnt down prior to the construction of our Walled City and the 'best-fit' event for that fire would seem to be the 1608 O'Doherty rebellion when all the houses in Derry were burnt by Cahir O'Doherty's troops."

He continued: "A very small fired-clay tobacco pipe that dates to the period of Elizabeth I has further helped to date the early building. A small cannon ball from the time of the O'Doherty rebellion in 1608 was also found on the cellar floor of the early building but we may never know if it was fired in anger.

"Although the dig doesn't appear to have found any remains dating to the 1689 Siege of Derry, rare finds have been uncovered including two complete glass bottles and near complete plates dating from the 1700s."
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« Reply #1 on: January 24, 2015, 10:45:00 pm »
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