The Northern Ireland Environment Agency (NIEA) has conducted an excavation at Dundrum Castle in conjunction with Channel Four’s Time Team and the Centre for Archaeological Fieldwork at Queen’s University Belfast.
The joint televised part of the excavation ran from June 12 to 14 with the aim of finding out what existed at this important site before the coming of the Normans.
Dundrum Castle is believed to be around 800 years old but the NIEA and Time Team would like to know what came before. One current theory is that the Norman Knight John de Courcy, the castle’s founder, built his fortress on this site because it was already important as a Gaelic dynastic centre.
Welcoming the excavation, Environment Minister Alex Attwood said: “We welcome the Time Team to Northern Ireland once again. This castle is in the care of my department and, with its magnificent views over Dundrum Bay to the Mourne Mountains, is a testament to our wonderful Built and Natural heritage.
Whilst the archaeological excavations may not uncover everything we are looking for I feel sure that they will add to our knowledge of the site and its development over the centuries. “
NIEA Archaeologist Paul Logue added: “This is an exciting opportunity to work with the Time Team once again and this, their third visit in five years, shows just how top grade Northern Ireland’s heritage really is.
We are hoping to uncover evidence of an earlier Gaelic site underneath the castle, which may help explain why de Courcy placed his fortress on this site. At the present we are working on the theory that the site may have been a local high status Gaelic settlement and perhaps goes back even further in time.”
After completion of the televised dig NIEA and the Queen’s University archaeologists will stay on for another few weeks until the end of June in order to investigate more of the castles history. Members of the public are particularly welcome to come along to visit the dig during the last two weeks on Fridays between 2pm and 4pm.