The Hearth Stone on which Docwra’s Dinner was cooked?

A large  tooled block of stone which was used as a hearth stone sometime in the early 17th C or late 16th C

A large tooled block of stone which was used as a hearth stone sometime in the early 17th C or late 16th C

It was the skeletons which captured the public and media attention in the QUB archaeological dig in the grounds of the former Bishop’s Palace Gardens. However it is the artefacts in the time horizon’s beneath them, which have most potential to tell us more about the monastic and plantation settlements on the island hill of Derry.  One of the most interesting finds, by the Queen’s University archaeologists, has been a large block of stone overlaid by the a patch of reddish soil, indicating burning. Tool marks are evident on the block of stone showing that it was formally sculpted to fit in some form of structure. Archaeologists and local historians believe that this stone was reused as a hearth stone. Such a fire could have been used by the English soldiers to cook their meals inside Docwra’s  walls which then surrounded the hill of Derry. Equally there is a great deal of speculation about the original use of the tooled block of stone. When it is excavated next week and turned over, will it reveal the carved text “Foundation Stone of Colmcille’s Abbey”! Not likely, but perhaps equally interesting evidence will be discovered. The dig site was also littered with big-wigs  last week; hopefully they will followup their media appearances with real investment in the heritage of the Hill of Derry.

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