Ancient setttlement find in Downpatrick

Ancient setttlement find in Downpatrick

8 November 2017

A PREHISTORIC settlement has been uncovered on the edge of Downpatrick.

Evidence of a neolithic settlement and a fire pit or cremation site with fragments of human bones from the Bronze Age are understood to have been discovered on a building site at Saul Road.

They were uncovered by a team of archaeologists during preliminary ground work on a five acre site earmarked for the development of dozens of new homes.

The specialist team was tasked routinely to the site as part of a planning condition to explore the area following the removal of top soil and before the commencement of ground works.

They were initially expected to be on site for a short time, but as a result of their early findings will now undertake a more detailed and lengthy exploration of the area.

Workers have been painstakingly sifting through the soil in a small patch of the site for a fortnight but have not yet publicly confirmed their findings.

A spokeswoman for the Department for Communities this week confirmed that archaeological features, “identified as potentially prehistoric in date”, had been uncovered on the site, but said that it had not yet received a report on the results as the excavation was at such an early stage.

“The Department can confirm that an archaeological excavation is underway at this site,” a spokeswoman said.

“This is being undertaken as part of a planning condition for the development and has been licensed by the Department.  

“The Department understands that some archaeology has been uncovered. This is currently being investigated in line with a programme of archaeological work agreed with the Department and the District Council’s planning division.”

The spokeswoman added that the developer and their archaeologist should be approached for information with regard to the progress of the excavation but they have declined to comment.

Local man Martin Terrins, who lives near the site and is passionate about history, said he had been led to believe evidence of a neolithic structure had been uncovered with evidence of a bronze age fire pit or cremation area.

“It is unbelievable to think there is so much history outside your front door,” he said.

“I know Downpatrick is steeped in history but to realise your neighbours are from the stone age is something else.

“This is the only a small bit of land that has been searched so far so it is very exciting to think of what might also be uncovered. It has caused a bit of a buzz around the area.”