Belfast Telegraph

Scrabo Hill: Landmark’s pre-historic secrets to be revealed during guided walk

Think of Scrabo Hill and you picture the magnificent tower overlooking Newtownards.

But a guided walk this weekend will uncover the many people and creatures have made their home on the hill over the millennia.

Experts in geology, archaeology and history will reveal the complex history of the iconic hill at the Story of a Hill event this Sunday.

Dr Alastair Ruffle, of Queen’s University, will reveal how the quarries on the hill were once part of a desert 160 million years ago. Among the fossils found in the sandstone were the footprint of a proto-dinosaur and ancient scorpion tracks.

Archaeologist Maybelline Gormley of NIEA will then take up the tale, uncovering how early hunter gatherers made their homes on top of the hill.

“The hill has been inhabited for 5,000 years since the hunter gatherers used it as a place of security on top of the hill, and close to the seashore,” warden James McEvoy said.

“There is early evidence of habitation in the hut circles on the hill.

“The tower itself was built on the site of an ancient Iron Age hill fort.”

Finally local historian Brian McDonald will give insights into the background to the tower itself and the quarrying that took place over many hundreds of years.

The much-loved department store of Robinson Cleaver was built from Scrabo sandstone, as were coffin lids that still survive at Movilla Abbey, showing how the quarrying went back to Norman times.

“For a lot of people, Scrabo is a recreational location where they go to walk, jog or walk their dog,” Mr McEvoy said.

“But the people joining this guided walk will gain a great insight into the complex story of what is now known as Scrabo Country Park.”

The free walk runs from 2-5pm and booking is essential — call NIEA on 028 9181 1491.

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