September 22, 2023

Evidence that the Lurgan site produced gold bars


Evidence of the production of gold and silver bars has been discovered at the site

The team behind an archaeological dig near Lurgan, County Armagh, believe they have discovered a “higher status site”.

They have found evidence of metal and glass working, including the production of gold and silver bars.

This is the second year of excavations at the site, known as Kilmocholmóg (Church of my little Colman).

During last year’s exploratory excavation, which lasted a week, traces of a medieval settlement were found.

David Weir of Craigavon ​​Historical Society said the three-week effort has provided a better understanding of life at the site in the Kilmore Road area over thousands of years.

“It looks very exciting,” he said.

“After last year’s excavation we thought it was a farm – which would have been great.

“But the finds that are turning up suggest it’s a higher status site.

“There is evidence of metalworking, glassworking, and evidence that gold and silver bars were made here.”

Archaeologist Stuart Alexander said he believed activity at the site was extensive.

“Last year we only opened a few very small trenches,” he said.

“But we expanded that a lot more and we found a lot more artifacts and archaeological features.

David Weir

David Weir of Craigavon ​​Historical Society said it is an exciting development

“We find some prehistoric activity and early medieval activity.

“So in prehistory we’re looking at the Mesolithic which is about 8000 B.C. to the early Christian period which is about 400 A.D.

“It’s not unusual for people on sites to come back to the same places over time and use the same places.

“All archaeologists want to find gold and I’m no different.”

Stuart Alexander

Archaeologist Stuart Alexander believes activity at the site is extensive

Those finds are discovered by an army of volunteers – about 300 people are participating this year.

Among them are students Michael Higgins, Zachary McCann and Holly Donaldson.

For Holly, after missing out last year, this was a second chance to participate in the dig.

“I saw it posted last year, but I never got around to doing it,” she said.

“But then I saw it in the mail again this year and I just decided to come along for a little fun and see what I could find.”

Students Zachary McCann, Michael Higgins and Holly Donaldson

Students Zachary McCann, Michael Higgins and Holly Donaldson are involved in the excavation, among others

And great discoveries have been made.

Michael said the highlight was a discovery by Zachary of a rod shape.

“Within 20 minutes he found the mold where they would have poured the molten ore and made the blocks,” he added.

At the time of his great discovery, this was not entirely clear to Zachary.

“Of course I knew what it was,” he joked.

“I certainly didn’t put it in a pile and thought it was a rock, but five minutes later Michael looked at it and said it was something very important.”

Katy McMonagle

Archaeologist Katy McMonagle says most sites will yield only modest discoveries

Among those on hand to explain what each find means is archaeologist Katy McMonagle.

In addition to the bar shape, Katy closes a small blue bead that she says was produced on site.

“This is an early medieval blue glass bead that is a lovely find, but also a very personal one as someone would have worn this as part of their jewelry,” she said.

It’s tempting to think the treasure lies just beneath every footstep, but before you dig up your yard, Katy says most sites will yield only modest discoveries.

“In this field, it’s amazing that we have this archaeology,” she said.

“Not every field will have something like that.

“But everyone’s garden will probably have post-medieval pottery, clay pipes and things like that.

“So you never know what you might find.”

Medieval blue glass bead found at Lurgan site

Katy was impressed by an early medieval blue glass bead found at the site

Last year’s excavation continued after ground-penetrating radar surveys conducted by Queen’s University in Belfast indicated interesting stone features.

The surveys were commissioned by the Lurgan Township Heritage Scheme and funded in part by the Historic Environment Section of the Department for Communities.

Sign for parking lot for archaeological excavation Kilmocholmøg

This is the second year of excavations at the County Armagh site

The latest archaeological excavation ends on Friday.

Discoveries are then further investigated for their significance.

After that, the search for funding will begin to enable a third excavation at Kilmocholmóg.

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