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Kids unearth past with Siege of Derry dig at own school

By Staff Reporter

A new search has taken place within the grounds of one of Northern Ireland's top Catholic grammar schools for archaeological evidence relating to the Siege of Derry.

Students from Lumen Christi College and pupils from nearby Nazareth House Primary School took part in the dig, supervised by staff from Queen's University Centre for Archaeological Fieldwork.

The college is built beside the remains of an old windmill that was the focus of intense fighting during the 1689 siege.

However, the area has changed significantly since. It became the site of the Cassina of the Bishop of Londonderry in the 18th century; then St Columb's College and the Christian Brothers School, before its present incarnation.

While no evidence of cannons, muskets or forgotten ramparts were discovered, there were finds from the time of the siege, including fragments of clay pipes and pottery.

William Moore, chairman of the Siege Museum management committee, thanked Lumen Christi College for agreeing to facilitate the excavations.

"We are delighted with the finds and also for the opportunity to introduce the exciting story of the siege to the school community," he said.

"In addition, our thanks to the Heritage Lottery Fund without whom this project would not have been possible."

Stephen Doherty of Lumen Christi College described the dig "an exciting and unique occasion for us". He added: "Our students were fascinated with the dig and even had the opportunity to get their hands dirty.

"Aside from the intriguing siege period artefacts, one of our students found a Neolithic flint, potentially dating to 4000BC.

"This opens up all sorts of possibilities as to what the site may have housed in the past.

"We'd like to thank the QUB Centre for Archaeological Fieldwork and the Siege Museum for making this excavation possible."

The unearthed finds will be displayed later this year at the Siege Museum.

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