Friday, 31 May 2013

Prehen outbuildings

This roofed building is an old barn which some speculate could be a late 17th/early-18th century Scots-style farmhouse, or, it could simply be an 18th-century barn ....


Other roofless outbuildings, close to the flanker -

and garden features..

The lost fort of the Goldsmiths: digging up a previously unknown plantation fort at Prehen House

First, some background to the dig........

Prehen is first mentioned in 1613 as an area of land allocated to the Company of Goldsmiths. This entry records no details beyond the name of the parcel of land and its cost. There is no depiction of any surviving buildings in the Prehen area in the 1610 map of the escheated counties, so it seems likely that there were no significant pre-plantation buildings at the site.

To the south east of Prehen House, attached to the roofless remains of an outbuilding, is a section of curving masonry with an apparent gun loop. This appears to be the surviving fragment of a flanker, either of a bawn or possibly of a fortified house and may be a fragment of plantation-period architecture at Prehen.

Section of curving masonry from south showing brick-blocked gun loop

Detail of gun loop from north side of curving masonry section

The NIEA asked the CAF to conduct an archaeological evaluation at Prehen in advance of possible further work. A geophysical survey indicated the presence of a circular flanker close to the location of the surviving curving wall and what appeared to be a wall running off it, possibly part of a bawn or house.

Geophys survey (resistivity) results

A single “L” shaped trench (7m by 1m) was excavated across the possible flanker and the masonry wall of a flanker was visible when the sod was removed from the trench. It measured 60cm wide and was composed of mortared stonework, most of the stones being shale or schist. The flanker, although only partially exposed, appears to have had an internal diameter of approximately 4m and an external diameter of about 5.2m. A stretch of walling butted the flanker wall, running roughly south from it. This wall was slightly thicker than the flanker, approximately 80cm thick. It is probably a stretch of the bawn wall surrounding a plantation period, fortified house.

Plan of excavation trench (excavated in Feb. 2013)

View of outer and inner curving walls of the flanker

Hypothetical outline of Prehen Bawn & proposed excavation trenches for June 2013


Welcome to the LegenDerryDigs blog,

The CAF, in collaboration with the NIEA and Derry City Heritage & Museum Service, will be carrying-out archaeological excavations at three very different sites in and around the city of Derry this summer. The digs will be open for the public to visit and for some community participation (check back here for more details).

The digs will run, one each, in June, July and September. It is hoped that we will round-off the season with a day-long symposium in the city coinciding with the launch of the publication of 'The Archaeological Story of Derry-Londonderry' by Ruairi O'Baoill.

The first up is at Prehen House located south of the River Foyle. The excavation will run for 3 weeks from June 3rd, Monday to Friday with Open Afternons on;
  • Friday June 7th 2-4pm
  • Friday June 14th 2-4pm
  • Friday June 21st 2-4pm
There will be a Family Open Day on Saturday June 22nd 12-4pm

The dig will be directed by Cormac McSparron from the CAF and with an experienced team of archaeologists from the CAF. 

Come along and visit us!