Team of archaeologists discover ‘high-status area’ in dig at medieval settlement

Archaeologists behind a dig in Northern Ireland believe they have discovered a “higher status area”.

Excavation on the County Armagh site began last year after a radar survey of the area by Queen’s University Belfast found stone features.

An exploratory dig at Kilmocholmóg (meaning ‘church of my little Colman’) found a medieval settlement and the team has now found evidence of metal and glass works.

The archaeologists, assisted by 300 volunteers, have unearthed gold and silver ingots and glass beads they believed to have been made on-site as well as pottery and Neolithic flint.

David Weir of Craigavon Historical Society said: “It is looking very exciting.

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“We were thinking it was a farmstead – which would have been great. But the finds that are turning up suggest that it is a higher status site.”

They have also found activity from long before the medieval period, with finds from the stone age.

Archaeologist Stuart Alexander said: “All archaeologists want to find gold and I am no different.

“We are finding some prehistoric activity and early medieval activity.

“We’re looking at the Mesolithic period which is about 8000BC right up to the early Christian period of about 400AD.

“It’s not unusual on sites to find that people come back over time to the same places and use the same spots.”

Among the hundreds of volunteers were students Michael Higgins and Zachary McCann.

Michael said their highlight was a discovery by Zachary of an ingot mould.

“In 20 minutes, he found the mould where they would have poured in the molten ore and made the ingots,” he said.

Though, at the time, this was not obvious to Zachary.

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“Of course I knew what it was,” he joked.

“I definitely didn’t put it in a pile and think it was a stone only for five minutes later Michael to look at it and say that it was something very important.”

Archaeologist Katy McMonagle noted how amazing it was that the field was so full of pieces of history to discover.

“Not everybody’s field is going to have something like this,” she said.

“But everybody’s garden is probably going to have post-medieval pottery, clay pipes – that kind of thing.

“So you never know what you might find.”

The second dig is ending today (July 7) and all discoveries will be examined to discover their significance.

Now the group will begin looking for funding for the third dig at the Kilmocholmóg site.

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