A team of archaeologists from three UK universities has commenced excavations at Carrowmore monastic site in Inishowen. This is the first dig ever undertaken at this site and is led by staff from University of Sunderland (Colm O’Brien and Max Adams) together with colleagues from University of Newcastle and University of Stirling (Richard Tipping). Two volunteers from Inishowen have joined them and others will come in later. Other members of the team are from the University of Sunderland’ s Centre for Lifelong Learning, some of whom were present last year. Today a ten metre trench has been opened under licence from the OPW and with the approval of the landowner Paddy Mooney, Carndonagh. The field is a metre higher than the site below which has one of the High Crosses so a lot of overfill has been undertaken in recent times. The dig is taking place close to the site where the vallum or wall of the ancient monastery was found buried underground last year. (See earlier post). The dig is in effect a follow-on from last year’s work.
The fields around Cloncha are being mapped by other members of the team and samples have been taken from the bank of the river. This is the first official operation of this kind at Cloncha and it is hoped that results will be as positive as those found last year at Carrowmore. It is hoped that some fresh light may be thrown on the causeway that linked the two sites, an area that includes bogland and a river. The district of one square mile is one of the best heritage sites in Ireland with 4 High Crosses, medieval grave slabs, two court tombs, a hill-top fort used for Land League meetings, grave markers, a barn church, a stone circle, a Mass rock, a twin-ringed Iron Age fort, a monastic bell (in the church), a fallen souterrain mentioned in Maghtochair in 1867, a site known as Queen Maeve’s tomb, other marked stones and holy wells. The general area is intersected by the Moville-Carndonagh road. At one time there were two public houses.
There will be an open day on Thursday 5 September and all results will be presented in Culdaff later that evening. Everyone is welcome to attend.