Antrim A26 dig unearths Stone Age house and several medieval hidey-holes
Tunnels used by our ancestors to hide from raiding parties have been discovered during work in advance of the £65 million A26 road scheme in north Co Antrim.
The early medieval feature, known as a souterrain, is a substantial archaeological feature consisting of a number of underground passages, some stone lined.
This was used by local people to hide from raiding parties on the search for potential slaves.
A stone age house has also been found along the route of the new road.
The sites will be excavated and recorded before work starts on the new dual carriageway.
Regional Development Minister Danny Kennedy has visited the site and has recognised the efforts of archaeological investigations from Northern Ireland Environment Agency (NIEA) Built Heritage and the contractors.
"Advanced site clearance works have allowed the department to carry out archaeological investigations along the scheme prior to contract award.
"Contractors Arup and NIEA Built Heritage have uncovered important archaeological finds and also eliminated the risk of delay and additional costs to the A26 scheme," Mr Kennedy said.
Environment Minister Mark H Durkan has also welcomed the significant find.
"The heritage remains uncovered during the digs range from a house lived in by our earliest ancestors right up to a flax dam, which the archaeologists believe was used in living memory.
"The early house dates to the Mesolithic period around about 7,000 years ago and is a particularly exciting discovery.
"This is an excellent example of how we can work together to aid economic prosperity while respecting environmental requirements and preserving our heritage for both present and future generations."
Paul Logue, senior archaeologist at NIEA, said: "By the end of the week, all the archaeological sites will have been fully excavated and preserved by record."