Thursday, 30 May 2013

Day One at Derrywoone Castle

We started our Year Two excavation at Derrywoone Castle on Tuesday; a bright sunny day (its always nicer in the north - or so Fintan says)! The setting of the castle is beautiful, surrounded by green park land.

We set about organising our cabins and our surveyor James set out the trench cuttings. The crew got busy removing the sod from the trenches.

Some of these trenches will investigate possible features shown on the geophysical survey which was undertaken by Joanna Leigh. We hope to find some evidence for tenant houses associated with the castle. The geophysical survey highlighted some linear features and blobs which could be of interest. We also set out Cuttings around the castle and we hope to start them next week - all very exciting!

We had some very nosy neighbours watching the proceedings with curiosity....... :-)

Thursday, 23 May 2013

Year Two - Derrywoone Castle, Barons Court, Co. Tyrone

For the second year of the Ulster Scots Archaeological Project we will be looking at the site of Derrywoone Castle in Co. Tyrone.

The castle was built soon after 1619 by Sir George Hamilton of Greenlawe in Scotland as the successor to the O’ Neill 15th century tower on Island MacHugh in the nearby lake (shown below in the aerial image and first edition OS map). A typically Scottish feature present at Derrywoone is the finely carved corbelled-out staircase beside the doorway (shown in picture above). 

A survey, undertaken in 1622, records that, at Derrione (Derrywoone), Hamilton had begun to build a ‘fair stone howse, 4 stories high, which is almost finished, and a bawne of stone and lyme, 90 foot long, 70 foot broad and 14 foot high. The house takes up almost the full bawne. As soon as it is finished, he [Hamilton] intends to dwell there himself

A large number of British families are recorded as planted at ‘Derrione’ including two freeholders, 10 leaseholders and 6 cottagers. The survey records that between Derrione and Cloghogenall an additional 88 Irish families reside. One of the aims of the upcoming research excavation will be to try and identify this settlement. 

We hope to undertake test excavations in the area beginning next week and will keep the blog updated with our results. Stay tuned!