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Crannog almost destroyed by roadworks on awards shortlist

By Linda Stewart

Published 21/12/2015

Excavation director Dr Nora Bermingham beside a cross-section of the crannog site
Excavation director Dr Nora Bermingham beside a cross-section of the crannog site

A crannog that was threatened by a road scheme in Fermanagh has been nominated for a major archaeology award.

Part of the Drumclay Crannog was destroyed during the excavation carried out ahead of building the A32 Cherrymount Link Road in Enniskillen, delaying the completion of the road.

The damage sparked uproar among archaeologists who carried out a successful campaign to highlight the plight of the rare crannog.

Then Environment Minister Alex Attwood stepped in to order a review and a no-go zone for construction traffic, resulting in a more in-depth excavation of the site which yielded a wealth of information and artefacts that are expected to revolutionise the understanding of the period. The resulting excavation has now been nominated for the Rescue Dig of the Year 2016 award by Current Archaeology, after it uncovered 1,000 years of history.

The dig revealed how the settlement on an artificial island had expanded upwards as occupation platforms and houses were built and rebuilt on top of each other, based on piles driven directly into the lake bed.

The dig also uncovered the remains of a young woman, aged about 18 or 19, and found in a shallow grave dating back sometime from 1309 to 1439. Her body was found in a crouched posture with her head oriented north, quite unlike the traditional Christian arrangement expected for the period.

Archaeologist Robert Chapple, who campaigned for the excavation to be completed, is appealing to the public to vote for the Drumclay Crannog.

"Because the space was waterlogged, all the organic stuff like wood and leather that would normally rot away was wonderfully preserved," he said.

A link to the public vote can be found on Mr Chapple's blog at

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