Digging up the past in city for archaeology festival

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Londonderry will be stepping back in time this weekend with a series of special events celebrating local history taking place at the Guildhall and the Tower Museum on Saturday, July 18.

The events, which are being led by Derry City and Strabane District Council’s Museums Services, coincide with the UK Festival of Archaeology.

Children will have the opportunity to experience the fascinating challenges of an archaeological dig, archaeology information fair, tours and exhibits, as well as a day exploring local archives and genealogy.

Among the fascinating items on display will be the 175-year-old parchment unearthed in the Brooke Park time capsule, and a special medical bag and helmet found in the wreckage of a Spitfire plane discovered in Donegal.

The Mayor of Derry City and Strabane District, Councillor Elisha McCallion, said the event is geared towards celebrating and raising the profile of archaeology and genealogy in the city and region.

“I’m really looking forward to our day of historical exploration. There will be plenty of interactive archaeological activities for children and all the family can discover more about tracing their roots and sourcing archive information.

“It’s a great opportunity to find out about our fascinating history, and spend a fun day visiting some of the city’s most popular visitor attractions.”

The School of Irish Archaeology (SIA) will facilitate a mock dig for children in Guildhall Square on Saturday afternoon. This unique dig is a practical hands-on and fun event for children allowing them to explore the world of archaeology and the opportunity to experience what it’s like to be a real life Indiana Jones.

There will also be an archaeology information fair in the main hall of the Guildhall with experts on hand to provide information on becoming involved in archaeology.

Why not join in one of the archaeology themed tours on the day leaving at 11.30am, 1.30pm and 3pm, meeting at the Tower Museum. This tour will give an insight into the archaeology of the walls, the cannons and interpretation of the landscape. Pre-booking for the tours is advisable with the museum.

The Tower Museum also throws open its doors for an Archive and Genealogy Open Day with information and advice in tracing your roots. A special tour and talk has been organized in the Museum on ‘La Trinidad Valencera – an Armada Shipwreck’ which will be delivered by Dave Atherton, diver from the City of Derry Sub-Aqua Club.

Visitors to the museum will also have the chance to meet the author of the book ‘An Irish Colleen travels abroad, Anne L. Drabczyk who will be signing copies of her work from 12noon to 5pm. Entry to the Museum is £1 with access to all the exhibits.

The Archeology Day will take place on Saturday 18th July from 10am-5pm, with the Big Dig sessions, each lasting 45 minutes, running from 11am – 5pm. Anyone interested can register for a place in advance on the Big Dig go to www.eventbrite.ie/e/the-big-dig-guildhall-square-derry-tickets

For further details on all the day’s event go to www.derrycityandstrabanedistrictcouncil.com/museums, Tel: 028 7137 2411 or email tower.reception@derrycityandstrabanedistrict.com