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Archaeological Dig on Divis Mountain Set to Unearth What Lies Beneath


The Belfast Hills Partnership is tooling up for one of the biggest community archaeology showpieces ever seen in Northern Ireland’s Belfast Hills.

Taking place over the next three weeks, the dig will seek to unearth buried history on Divis and Black Mountain.

The excavation will host 16 schools from the city along with community groups, the Young Archaeologists’ Club and the general public.

Academics from the centre for archaeological fieldwork at Queen’s University will join experts from the National Trust – which owns the property - for the marathon event.

Ulster Archaeology Society members will support the local time team who will guide those taking part and provide information to the visiting public.

The dig is part of the Heritage Lottery Fund’s Belfast Hills Landscape Partnership Scheme, which seeks to reconnect communities to the hills.

Built Heritage, the Northern Ireland Environment Agency and the National Trust have also provided funding.

Free public open days have been laid on for people to see the dig in action.

The open days on Saturday April 27, and Saturday May 4, will provide an opportunity for visitors to see what has been uncovered and view any unearthed artifacts.

People of all ages and families can have a go at archaeology and do some digging.

A traditional green wood worker will display how our ancestors carved fresh timber to make everyday objects, while visitors can take a self-guided walk around the site.  

A presentation of what has been discovered at the Divis dig is planned to take place in the Ulster Museum on Wednesday July 3, as part of this summer’s Belfast Hills Heritage Festival.

Lizzy Pinkerton, landscape partnership scheme manager at the Belfast Hills Partnership, said the Divis dig has a strong element of community heritage. 

She said:

“We have been very keen to build on the highly-successful community dig over at Ballyaghagan on Cave Hill last year, and again involve the local community in their heritage and getting hands-on Belfast history.

“We are delighted to be working with the experts to uncover the rich heritage of the Belfast Hills and hope to uncover some fascinating finds and historical treasures. Members of the public are invited to come along and see local history being discovered.”

National Trust archaeologist Malachy Conway said the site was located in an area rich in archaeological remains.

He said:

“The dig site is one of a number of prehistoric flint scatters we know of in the Belfast Hills, and holds the prospect of revealing valuable information about our prehistoric past. This site has not been investigated before so who knows what we will find.”

“Our archaeological survey of the property has revealed over 4,000 years worth of human activity in the Belfast Hills through new sites discovered. These include prehistoric burial cairns, hut sites and stone-walled enclosures, 19th century farmsteads and 20th century defence heritage.

“We are delighted at the prospect of so many schools, groups and the public being involved in this community excavation on Divis and Black Mountain.”

Contact the Belfast Hills Partnership on 02890 603 466 if you would like to book a place as a digger on the excavation open days.

For more information, click here.