The Belfast Hills have a rich history, the evidence of which may be seen by the remains left in the landscape. Much of this history is as yet undiscovered. When the National Trust bought the Divis and Black Mountain site in 2004 only one historic monument/feature was identified. To date 223 have now been uncovered. This provides a taster for what else must be out there in similar surrounding hill sites.
QUBs Centre for Archaeological Fieldwork was commissioned to undertake surveys of 12 different heritage features/sites in the Belfast Hills. The aim of this was to create a baseline survey and management recommendations to influence future care through LPS projects and provide landowners with the information needed to help preserve and conserve these historic features.
Community archaeology digs have been undertaken at Cave Hill, Black Mountain, Carnmoney Hill and Slievenacloy through the support of NIEA Built Heritage Team, in partnership with the various landowners. They included schools visits, community group visits, public open days and training sessions.
Feedback was obtained via official evaluation sheets, a comments book, comments posted online, emails received etc. All feedback forms are being kept on file, some of the comments are quoted below, giving you a taster of peoples thoughts on their dig experience:
“I think it’s better learning here instead of school because you can see it up close. Thank you” Jodi
“I think archaeology is awesome” Kasay
“I had a great time, I loved it and found out loads.” Amy
“Thank you for the wonderful opportunity to be an archaeologist for the day. We had a great time” Nathan
“A fantastic opportunity for local children to experience a real archaeology dig and to learn more about their own past” Ballymacward PS
“I will use my new knowledge to educate children in school. One of our topics is Early Stone Age Man which links in brilliantly with the dig” Holy Child Primary School
All the participants rated the course as excellent and said that they would recommend it to others.
Participants were particularly interested in learning about local archaeology. As a result of the course people were keen to read more about local history, join the UAS, get out walking more and volunteer more.
One local couple commented that it was a subject that always interested them, but had rarely seen locally advertised. “Such events are usually out of reach to many. Thank you to the organisers for the opportunity to do this and I hope further such events will continue” David & Marie
“Thoroughly enjoyed the dig today, great alternative activity for the community for people of all age groups” Eileen
“Fantastic experience taking part in a dig for the first time. Thank you for the opportunity” Sheila
“Absolutely fabulous experience. I have learned so much today. Thank you all so much” Ann
“Really had a very interesting time at the Dig Divis today. I had come along last weekend too and loved every minute! Would love to do it all again” Amy
“Fantastic time on our mountain!!!” Fra
“One very good & interesting day for young and old” William, Alex & Caleb
“We had lots of fun digging” Eoghan
“It has been inspirational and I shall be checking out the websites for more info” Margaret
“Thank you very much for making my mountain, which I view every morning, an exciting as well as beautiful place” Maureen
“My view of local history has changed, lived nearby for 40 years and wasn’t even aware of it”
“I will now look at what appears to me to be random stones in a different light” Liz