More time for crannog dig team
Archaeologists excavating an ancient settlement in Co Fermanagh have been given yet more time to complete their work before a road is built on top of it.
The dig team at the Drumclay Crannog in Enniskillen have now been granted four extensions to allow them to retrieve artefacts from a site already credited with rewriting the history of early Christian and medieval Ulster.
Earlier this month the cut off point had been pushed back to April 8, but Roads Minister Danny Kennedy has now approved a further week of excavation. He insisted it would be the final extension.
The crannog, which is a man-made island built in a lake to provide settlers with added security, lies in the path of the planned A32 Cherrymount link road.
Mr Kennedy wants the road to be completed by the time of the G8 summit in Fermanagh in June.
Controversy already surrounds the route of the road and alleged destruction of part of the settlement last summer before the crannog was given temporary protection by Environment Minister Alex Attwood.
The site has generated great interest in Fermanagh, with more than 1,000 people having attended open days. It is remarkably well preserved because it has been entombed in bog land.
But long term preservation of the crannog is not an option as it is already starting to decay as a result of exposure to the air. Archaeologists have found around 4,000 artefacts during the eight-month dig, some dating back more than 1,000 years.
Discoveries include a wood cutting axe from around the 9th century, pieces of a medieval board game, bone and antler combs, parts of log boats, leather shoes, knives, decorated dress pins, wooden vessels and a bowl with a cross carved on its base.
Experts are excited about the finds because their styles and designs hint at influences from elsewhere in Europe, suggesting the area had more extensive links with the wider world than previously thought. Mr Kennedy said the further extension would not hit the timeframe for completing the road before the G8.