Excavations are currently underway at the uncovered site of a crannóg (a man-made island dwelling on a lake) just outside the town of Enniskillen in County Fermanagh which has proven to be a gold mine of archaeological finds and an amazing insight into Irish life as far back as the 7th century AD. However, the Cherrymount Link Road is scheduled to go through the ancient site as soon as March 2013.
Although Environment Minister Alex Attwood has clarified that he and the Northern Ireland Roads Service were aware that the site existed before construction began and that, in an ideal world, they would never have excavated the site, the road has to be constructed.
Archaeologist Nora Bermingham has said that Drumclay Crannóg “stands far and above most other crannogs that we have information on, it’s almost now above the earlier sites we knew in Derry and County Westmeath. This crannóg is almost verging on being a lake settlement rather than a crannóg as we have up to nearly 30 houses excavated already, whereas comparable crannógs maybe would have had between two and five.” Bermingham revealed to The Fermanagh News that the excavation has uncovered a treasure trove of artefacts that give us a glimpse into life in Ireland from the 17th century back as far as the 7th century AD and show possible links with the ancient royal line of the Fermanagh Maguires.
The community heritage project, Envision, soon began a petition on Change.org in order to express their wish to have the time period of the dig extended as they believe that the “lost opportunity of archaeologically recording and studying the complete site” to be the equivalent of “lopping off a wing of La Louvre in Paris”, “bulldozing a portion of the British Museum” or “removing the inner chamber of Newgrange”.
Although the archaeological excavation of Drumclay Crannóg was meant to have ended by the end of 2012, a further report by The Fermanagh News on December 27 revealed that Minister Attwood had extended the previous time period for the dig to the end of March 2013, calling the site “a real archaeological jewel” and a “once in a century opportunity”. Attwood also stated that his reason for the extension was that “This [Drumclay Crannóg] is the first substantial, scientific excavation of a crannog in Northern Ireland. What has been found will ultimately lead to a reassessment of life in Ulster in Early Christian and medieval times. It is of international importance.”
The Cherrymount Link Road will still go ahead as scheduled though it is not clear when its construction will begin again.