Archaeologists discovered hundreds of prehistoric flint tools on an island off the coast of Northern Ireland.
Their findings bolstered the belief that humans have lived on Rathlin Island since 5,500 BC, about 1,000 years longer than previously thought.
The five-year survey by a University of Ulster team, sponsored by the Northern Ireland Environment Agency (NIEA), was the most comprehensive ever taken into the island’s archaeology.
Project leader Dr Wes Forsythe, of the Centre for Maritime Archaeology at Coleraine said the quantity and quality of flint tools and ceramics unearthed during the survey have greatly exceeded researchers’ expectations.
The team unearthed prehistoric sites that had not been recorded previously.
Dr Forsythe said of one major Mesolithic site: “Finding a flint in north Antrim is not surprising in itself but finding hundreds of worked flint tools in one area, scattered across three fields that we chose at random because they had just been ploughed for spring seeding, is pretty remarkable anywhere. Rathlin had a real richness of prehistoric finds.”
A book by Dr Forsythe and his colleague Rosemary McConkey describes the survey and its findings.
‘Rathlin Island: An Archaeological Survey of a Maritime Landscape’ will be launched at a ceremony on the island tomorrow (Friday).
The illustrated text describes new evidence about prehistoric and medieval settlement and the kelp industry, fishing and agriculture.
Finds included a huge haul of flint tools, polished axe-heads, pottery, a bronze finger-ring and lignite jewellery.
NIEA will call on the survey when deciding on future planning applications.
Northern Ireland News
Link 2: New Book Surveys Rathlin’s Prehistoric Secrets
Book: Rathlin Island: An Archaeological Survey of a Maritime Landscape (Northern Ireland Archaeological Monographs)