People lived on the lands of the kingdom of heroes six thousand years ago

(ORDO NEWS) — A Neolithic settlement dating back at least 5,800 years has been found in Northern Ireland. It is not yet clear why people settled there, but it is known that after millennia, powerful kingdoms fought for these lands.

British archaeologists reported on the results of excavations that they carried out before the start of construction of a new residential complex in Londonderry (Northern Ireland, UK). The city is built in a hilly area on the banks of the River Foyle and Lough Foyle, which is the estuary of the river.

In the past, archaeologists working at Loch Foyle found artifacts dating back to the time of the kingdom of Ailech (approximately 450-1185 AD). But now scientists have discovered two large rectangular houses, which, according to the most conservative estimates, date back to 3800 BC.

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General view of the excavations

The soil on the banks of Loch Foyle contributed to the preservation of artifacts. Therefore, the researchers unearthed not only the foundations of the houses, but also the oak planks that made up the dividing walls.

Inside the houses they found a large collection of Neolithic tools, kitchen utensils and pottery. Archaeologists note that this type of rectangular Neolithic house is found mainly in Scotland and Ireland, but rarely elsewhere.

According to excavation leader Katy McMonagle, the dimensions of the houses indicate that they were part of a very large Neolithic settlement.

Previously, villages about five thousand years old had already been found in Ireland, but by the standards of the Neolithic communities of continental Europe of that period, they were small.

But around Loch Foyle, the high density of population during the early Neolithic was very high. Found two houses in Londonderry – the oldest and largest. But earlier, archaeologists have already met ordinary round Neolithic houses around the river and the bay.

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Loch Foyle is located in the very north of Ireland

Researchers believe that Neolithic dwellings were quite spacious. They were built by people who were engaged in agriculture and generally led a completely independent and self-sufficient lifestyle, so they needed a lot of living and working space.

People also lived in scattered agricultural settlements around the River Foyle, where land and water availability was not a problem. During the Neolithic, the hills around Loch Foyle were covered with forests, another valuable resource. These settlements have been dated between four and two thousand years BC.

According to the archaeological data available today, this is the most populated part of the island of Ireland in the Neolithic – and at the same time its northernmost part. And here we come to an interesting story.

We said above that the previous finds at Loch Foyle were mainly from the medieval kingdom of Ailech.

This tiny state was formed after the fall and division of Ulad (or Ulster), the most important kingdom on the island, which we know mainly from myths, ranging from the Book of the Capture of Ireland (Leabhar Gabhála Éireann) to the legends of the Ulad cycle.

The Ulad cycle was written down by Irish monks in the early Middle Ages, after the fall of Ulad, based on oral stories and traditions.

Although archaeologists do not like myths (which is confirmed by the story of Schliemann), during the excavation they found details that correspond to those described in the legends.

This applies both to specific objects – for example, the site of Emain Mahi, the ruined capital of the kingdom, and descriptions of details of clothing, chariots, and even fighting techniques (relief images of battles carved on stone).

From the same Ulad cycle, we know that the kingdom has always been at war. It became famous in Ireland precisely as a country of warriors, martial arts and great heroes.

The most famous of them is Cuchulain, the military leader of Ulada, whom the sagas call either a demigod (the son of a woman and the god Lug), or the incarnation of the god himself.

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Ruins of the Grianan Aileh fortress, residence of the kings of Aileh

Ulad’s main opponent is the kingdom of Connacht. The high kings of Ireland turned to him for support when the northern warriors went too far in their conquests. Legends say that Ulad fell and was divided into three small kingdoms at the beginning of the 4th century AD.

And for the lands of these kingdoms there were constant wars. As a result, the northernmost part of the island ended up in the hands of the Wee Neill family, who until the end of the 10th century were the High Kings of Ireland and even claimed the crown of Scotland.

Aileh is one of the tiny kingdoms of this kind. And it is not clear why he attracted people around him so much that blood was constantly shed over these hills – after all, this is the very north of the island. But, apparently, something important is hidden in those lands, since people settled there so densely six thousand years ago.


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