Work to begin on Neolithic henge site in Aghagallon

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  • Volunteers wanted for unique archaeological dig
  • Work starts on Monday on ancient site
  • Henge-type feature dates back more than 4,500 years

Fancy being one of the first to unearth an ancient ringed fort at a unique archaeological dig near Lurgan?

Archaeologists probing a Neolithic henge-type feature at Aghagallon, believed to date back more than 4,500 years, are calling for volunteers.

And it is the reason why Aghagallon has its name and now the ‘Standing Stone’ is to be given its proper place in history.

Aghagallon, translated from Gaelic means Field of the Standing Stone, and it was just a few years ago that its true significance was uncovered when they discovered the giant ringed site.

For many years it was unclear where this standing stone might be, however when the local community association made plans to extend its building on the Aghalee Road, it was discovered that they were right beside the standing stone. The ringed site which is in the townland of Derrynaseer was designated as a scheduled historic monument in 2003.

Little is known about this large enclosure, formed by a large earthen bank with encloses a domed area some 180 metres in diameter and is clearly visible on Google Earth. It has some similarity to the Giant’s Ring on the outskirts of Belfast which was used as a ceremonial centre during prehistoric times but it also has a similarity to the monastery sites of the Early Medieval period, such as Nendrum in Co Down.

In advance of the archaeological excavation, the Centre for Archaeological Fieldwork (CAF) at Queen’s University in Belfast carried out a geophysical survey inside the enclosure and this has identified a range of features for investigation.

And volunteers have been invited to work alongside archaeologists from the CAF as they explore Aghagallon’s hidden past. Most of the morning volunteer slots are for local school children. However there are various slots in the afternoons from Thursday June 8 through to Monday June 26 for the general public.

If you would like to take part, contact chris.mccarney@loughneaghlp.com to book a dig slot.

There will also be a community open evening with a chance to visit the site with a walking tour of the enclosure on Tuesday June 27 at 7.30pm with the archaeologists.

And plans are afoot to create a historic tourism trail and link the Lagan Tow Path to the Standing Stone site, local SDLP Cllr Joe Nelson has said.

The NIEA said: “Based on surviving remains we believe it is probably a henge, a prehistoric ritual monument, which built by early farming communities.”