Amazing finds made at the Big Dig on Cave Hill
Pupils from schools around the Cave Hill area including bunscoil Mhic Reachtain, Ben Madigan prep, Mercy primary and Hazelwood integrated primary recently got hands on experience of an archaeological dig in action.
The Big Dig - spearheaded by the Belfast Hills Partnership - involved a team of experts excavating a site - thought to be over a thousand years old - at Cave Hill Country Park.
The junior time teams got digging during the week-long study at Ballyaghagan cashel – a site that had never before been unearthed.
Members of the public also saw the dig in action on Saturday.
A cashel is a stone-built enclosure and the one studied at Ballyaghagan is thought to date from the early middle ages.
Every year, thousands of visitors to Cave Hill pass the cashel, but few are aware of its existence.
The Big Dig is one of a series of projects earmarked for a £1.7 million Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) landscape partnership scheme in the Belfast hills.
The Northern Ireland Environment Agency and Belfast City Council - which owns the land - also funded the community project.
Ongoing work is led by a team from Queen’s University’s centre for archaeological fieldwork.
The initiative aims to help people learn more about the rich history and antiquity of the Belfast hills.
Lizzy Pinkerton landscape partnership manager at the Belfast Hills Partnership said the Big Dig has a strong element of community heritage.
"We brought together a wide range of partners in this project to actively engage local schools, youth and community groups in finding out about the past through archaeology.
“This was a small-scale dig, but it marks the start of our wider landscape partnership scheme which will see us working with local communities across the Belfast Hills.”
Paul Mullan, Head of HLF Northern Ireland, said: "We hope everyone enjoyed taking part in the activities to help to uncover and celebrate the unique hidden heritage of the Belfast Hills.”