The Speaker for the March meeting of the Bellaghy Historical Society was Mr. Paul McCooey, Chief Archaeologist in charge of the recent excavations at Toomebridge where the by-pass has been constructed.
He spoke with great enthusiasm of the importance of the findings there and emphasised that the final assessment of their significance had not yet been made as research was still continuing on the dating of certain objects.
Describing the difficulties encountered by his large team of archaeologists because of the intrusion of water at most stages of their diggings, Mr. McCooey told of the excitement on finding the foundations of both a square house and a round house dating back to both the Mesolithic and Neolithic periods.
It was a multi-period site as evidence was unearthed of Bronze age occupation as well. The site , which was very extensive , was a drumlin in the middle of a bog situated beside the River Bann and flints were found dating from very early Mesolithic times, flints which the ancient settlers may have brought with them. The drumlin itself was scarped in the 1800s and no evidence of human or animal bones was found. Mr McCooey’s talk aroused great interest in his large audience and many questions were asked.
Thanking the Speaker Mrs Mary Breslin, Chair-Person, reminded members of the April meeting when an effort was going to be made to name and chart the residences and businesses in “Old Bellaghy” before all evidence of the previous lay-out and trades of the village were lost. She asked members to bring along with them any old photos or postcards they might have of the village as it used to be.
Guest speaker at the March meeting, Mr Paul McCooey of the Ulster Museum