An artists impression of the Siege of Derry, in 1689. Photo by: Getty

Child skeleton remains uncovered could date back to Siege of Derry


An artists impression of the Siege of Derry, in 1689. Photo by: Getty

Archaeologists doing a dig in Derry unearthed three skeletons, including that of a child which may date from the Siege of Derry in 1689.

Dr. Emily Murray, director of the Centre of Archaeology at Queen’s University Belfast, is leading the dig at a parking lot near St. Augustine Church, which dates back to the siege.

The team found a complete child’s skeleton, two skulls and an array of items from the seventeenth century including gun flint, coins and earthenware.

The Belfast Telegraph quoted Murray about the child, “We have uncovered the entire skeleton of a child and while it is not possible to say if it is male or female, we know from the presence of milk teeth and the way the bones have not completely fused that this is the skeleton of a child between six and ten.”

The team was not terribly surprised to have found a complete skeleton because there is a graveyard located nearby.

The team only has three more weeks to work on the dig and the weather has been slowing some of their work. Thus far they have found lead musket shot, coins dating from about the seventeenth century, day pipes, and parts of unglazed coarseware pottery.

The site may have an even longer history than the Siege of Derry. Mark Lusby from the Honeywell Trust said, “Not only is it relevant because of the proximity of St. Augustine’s Church but it is also believed to the site of Colmcille’s monastic site and where the first set of city walls were built.” 

He added, “It is the holiest of holy grounds for both communities and it should be a garden of reflection instead of somewhere to park shoppers’ cars.”

The Derry Journal posted that the site will host an open day on September 28, 2013.

The apprentice boys played an important part in the Siege of Derry that is still celebrated. After William of Orange had been seated on the throne of England during the Glorious Revolution, the displaced King James II attempted to retake the throne via Ireland. 13 apprentice boys closed Derry’s city walls against James II’s army. The Apprentice Boys of Derry initiate new members in August and December. They hold their main parade in Londonderry/Derry on August 12 to celebrate the end of the siege. 


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