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Building Discovered in Derry Predates City's Walls

The Derry Walls

<![CDATA[A recent dig in Derry, Northern Ireland, has uncovered a building predating the construction of the city's walls and its current street-grid format. Many centuries-old artefacts were also found as part of the excavations. The dig was undertaken by archaeology firm 'Gahan and Long,' and was carried out under license from the Northern Ireland Environment Agency (NIEA), as a requirement ahead of the newly planned 'Apprentice Boys of Derry' visitor center. Only the foundations and cellar of the uncovered building remain, but they hold many artefacts and clues concerning the history and layout of ancient Derry. It is believed that the building, a home, was burnt to the ground, possibly during the 1608 'Doherty Uprising'. The foundation and cellar have survived due to their stone construction and underground location. Minister of Environment Mark Duran stated: "The building was burnt down prior to the construction of our Walled City and the 'best-fit' event for that fire would seem to be the 1608 O'Doherty rebellion when all the houses in Derry were burnt by Cahir O'Doherty's troops." It is believed that the building's upper floors were made of wood and timbre from the surrounding countryside, while its roof was made of slate. When it was set alight, the wooden structure burned to ember and the heavy stone roof collapsed into the cellar, remaining undiscovered and untouched for over 400 years. Among the artefacts found in the cellar were musket balls, clay pipes and a small cannon ball. The rarest artefacts included a shard of medieval pottery dating back to as early as 1200 CE, and several intact wine bottles the Department of Environment called "a rarity on archaeological excavations". Duran also stated: "Although the dig doesn't appear to have found any remains dating to the 1689 Siege of Derry, rare finds have been uncovered including two complete glass bottles and near complete plates dating from the 1700s [And] A very small fired-clay tobacco pipe that dates to the period of Elizabeth I has further helped to date the early building. A small cannon ball from the time of the O'Doherty rebellion in 1608 was also found on the cellar floor of the early building but we may never know if it was fired in anger." He continued, saying: "This is a truly exciting and important discovery. Archaeologists working for the Apprentice Boys have uncovered the earliest dated building in Derry and it is fitting that some of the artefacts uncovered will now go on display in the new museum." The building's alignment is also cause for excitement among archaeologists, as it is in opposition to Derry's current street-grid pattern. Duran explained: "The building's alignment is east-west and has been dated to the early 1600s. The east-west alignment is radically different to our present day Walled City street pattern. This clearly shows the building reflects the earlier street pattern based on the ecclesiastical settlement that pre-existed the plantation town of Londonderry." This discovery has presented new information about the history of Derry before the construction of its walls, and will add a host of unique artefacts and exhibits to the planned museum. Image courtesy of Wikimedia commons user: GeoGraphbot ]]>

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