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Boa Island, County FermanaghBeaghmore Stone Circles, County Tyrone

Stepping Stones into the Past

Stepping Stones into the Past

Back in the mists of time, some of our remotest areas were bustling! The first known dwelling on this island was found at Mountsandel near Coleraine (7000BC). Fermanagh and Tyrone are especially rich in Stone Age archaeology. Atop a windswept upland or in a lakeside field, await intriguing stones and earthwork. Can you solve the mystery of the 7 Beaghmore Bronze Age circles? Or the curious idols on Boa and White islands in Lough Erne? The Fermanagh lake was popular with Neolithic and early Christian Celts; its shoreline and islands full of burial and dwelling sites.

Even in Belfast, marvel at the enormous Giants Ring on its outskirts. Or Navan Fort near Armagh, stronghold of the Ulster kings, famous in the sagas of Cuchulainn and his Fianna warriors.

There are even more antiquities from the early Christian era. Superb examples of monastic sites, gravestones, abbeys, round towers and Celtic crosses crop up in every county. The perfect round tower on Devenish Island (Lough Erne) is worth the boat trip, as is the church on White Island, overlaying Christian and earlier imagery.

Greyabbey is one of our best monastic sites, set in parkland with a medieval herb garden. Also see: Nendrum Monastery in Down, Armagh Friary, Killevy Churches, Ardboe High Cross (Ulster's first), Antrim Round Tower, Dungiven Priory (15th century tomb of an O'Cahan chief). You can even visit St. Patrick's church in Raholp and his grave in Downpatrick. Many of sites are free.

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European Regional Development Fund