UNEARTHING OUR POMPEII; Excavation Gets Lottery Fund Boost

Article excerpt

Byline: MIRROR REPORTER n.ireland@mirror.co.uk

AN ambitious archaeological project to uncover Northern Ireland's mini Pompeii has received a funding boost.

The site beside Dunluce Castle on the scenic Causeway Coast has been hailed as significant as a 7th-century town may lie under it.

The Heritage Lottery Fund has now provided more than PS300,000 for an excavation project and signalled the potential for a total support package of PS4million.

The ruins of the castle have stood on the coastal outcrop near Bushmills in North Antrim for centuries but it was only four years ago that archaeologists re-discovered a lost settlement beside the famous landmark.

Established in 1608 by the first Earl of Antrim Randal MacDonnell, the town was destroyed in the uprising of 1641 and was eventually abandoned in 1680.

Over the next 200 years its buildings and streets were slowly consumed by the earth, with all visible traces disappearing by 1860. In 2009 the Northern Ireland Environment Agency in conjunction with experts from both the University of Ulster and Queen's University carried out initial excavations on the land believed to hold the remains of the lost town.

They found a well-developed settlement incorporating a cobbled meeting place and market, houses, industrial buildings and administrative offices as well as artefacts such as blacksmith tools and I horseshoes.

The NIEA now plans to completely uncover the site and open it to the public.

The HLF has agreed to provide development funding of PS302,000, which will enable the NIEA to draw up a more detailed application for the remaining PS3. …