Hazelwood pupils do spade work for Big Dig

Children from Hazelwood Integrated Primary School's Archaeology Club enjoying getting their hands dirty during 'The Big Dig' at Cave Hill Country Park. The pupils unearthed a number of prehistoric flints and some small pieces of pottery during the excavation at Ballyaghagan cashel.

Children from Hazelwood Integrated Primary School's Archaeology Club enjoying getting their hands dirty during 'The Big Dig' at Cave Hill Country Park. The pupils unearthed a number of prehistoric flints and some small pieces of pottery during the excavation at Ballyaghagan cashel.

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PUPILS from Hazelwood Integrated Primary School took part in ‘The Big Dig’ at Cave Hill Country Park recently.

A group of 15 children from the Whitewell Road school were among a number of teams of people of all ages who enjoyed having a dig at archaeology last month.

The Big Dig, spearheaded by the Belfast Hills Partnership, involved a team of experts excavating a site - thought to be over a thousand years old - at Cave Hill Country Park.

Local schools and community groups, including the children from Hazelwood Primary’s Archaeology Club, formed their own ‘time teams’ and dug deep during the study at Ballyaghagan cashel - an early middle ages stone-built enclosure that had never before been unearthed.

Members of the public were also able to go along and see the dig in action.

Led by a team from Queen’s University’s Centre for Archaeological Fieldwork, The Big Dig is one of a series of projects earmarked for a £1.7 million Heritage Lottery Fund landscape partnership scheme in the Belfast Hills.

The initiative was designed to help people learn more about the rich history and antiquity of the local area.

“We brought together a wide range of partners in this project to actively engage local schools, youth and community groups in finding out about the past through archaeology,” explained Lizzy Pinkerton, Landscape Partnership Manager at the Belfast Hills Partnership.

“This was a small-scale dig, but it marked the start of our wider landscape partnership scheme which will see us working with local communities across the Belfast Hills.”

Thanks to The Big Dig, during which the participants unearthed a mysterious inscribed stone, archaeologists now believe that Ballyaghagan may have been some sort of historic ceremonial site.

A team of medieval experts from QUB are now studying the finds and the inscribed stone in an effort to work out the secrets of the site’s past.