Early Christian Settlement Found in Donegal

The old Drumhome church and graveyard next to the archaeological dig. Photo: Wikimedia Commons.

October / November 2013

The remains of an early Christian settlement, probably from around the seventh century, were recently discovered in Donegal.

The medieval monastery enclosure is at Drumholm, near Ballintra, Co Donegal, and is close to where St. Ernan, a nephew of St. Columba, is said to have been buried in around 640 AD.

Experts are saying that the discovery could be as important as that of Clonmacnoise (“Meadow of the Sons of Nós”) in County Offaly.

The site is beside an old church and graveyard, and the find came about when a local Church of Ireland group looking to expand the graveyard and add a parking lot, called in archeological experts as part of their due-diligence.

Mick Drumm and his team from Wolfhound Archeology spent months studying the area before digging the test-trenches, which revealed the large oval-shaped enclosure.

The team found two pieces of pottery – one is of Gaelic origin, and one is from the Anglo-Norman tradition. They also unearthed evidence that animals had been butchered, and iron smelted on the site.

“I can’t overstate the national importance of this. It is very, very exciting,” Drumm said, speaking to the Irish Independent.

“I will be reporting the discoveries to the National Museum of Ireland and to the Department of Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht so that it can be declared a national monument and be protected,” Drumm said.

One Response to “Early Christian Settlement Found in Donegal”

  1. Sharon Connor says:

    My GGG grandparents are buried here. Was rather thrilling to run across this piece just now. Will be interested to follow the progress of this.

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