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17th Century Derry brought to life

I was up in Derry on another lovely, autumn day to test the latest updates of the Siege of Derry game and to demonstrate the app to Gail from the NIEA and archaeologist, Ruairí. Apart from a few minor glitches, the new Android/Apple version is working well. and should be ready for publication in the near future.

As we walked the walls, Ruairí was able to highlight historical details; such as the bricked up gun loops, which, although I have walked the route many times, I had never noticed before. He pointed out the grooves in the sandstone (pictured) that may have been caused by soldiers sharpening their weapons. Similar marks can be found in the entrance passage in Carrickfergus Castle.

I was lucky enough to get a look at the archaeological dig which is taking place in the grounds of  St Augustine’s, the old Anglican church located on the walls. The church  stands on the site of an old monastery founded by St Columb in 546 AD and the graveyard contains some interesting examples of 17th Century headstones.  It was day 2 of the dig and the archaeologists were finding many 17th Century artefacts, which included pieces of pottery and a gun flint that may have been used by a musketeer stationed at a gun loop in the walls during the siege. A fragment of a human jaw was also found; the large gap between the teeth suggests the owner was an habitual claypipe smoker. As the wisdom tooth had yet to come through, this person probably died before they reached the age of 25.  I really enjoyed attending the dig. It was really exciting to watch history literally being unearthed before my eyes. It gave me an opportunity to see the fragments of everyday objects revealed; the tangible evidence of history that can tell us so much about our past.

Results from last year’s dig, during the restoration of Presbyterian Church nearby, gave up more evidence from the 17th century period: “Skeletons discovered underneath a Londonderry church could be evidence of a siege grave, according to archaeologists.” Skeletons could be Londonderry siege grave.

Interestingly, there was another dig nearby at Dunnalong during the summer that aimed to bring local communities together in a shared exploration of their heritage.