Situated on Mahee Island and reached by twisting lanes and a causeway off the Killinchy Road, south of Comber, Nendrum is probably Northern Ireland’s best example of a pre-Norman monastic enclosure with buildings.
Associated with Saint Mochaoi in the fifth century, Nendrum was destroyed by a fire in AD 976, perhaps during a Viking raid. In the twelfth century, a Benedictine monastic cell was founded, only to be abandoned in the fifteenth century for a mainland site.
Rediscovered in 1844, Nendrum was finally excavated between 1922 and 1924. Three irregular oval stone walls enclose the hillside, and within the central enclosure lie the remains of a church, workshops and a graveyard, as well as the stump of a round tower.
It has now been restored so that the groupings of small buildings can be seen. A small visitors centre has been opened adjacent to the site. An early Christian period sundial has been reconstructed on the site and other artefacts, including a famous bronze coated iron bell, are in the care of the Ulster Museum.
© Darren Taylor, Aquiweb.com