Thornhill Neolithic Site
One of Derry’s oldest sites of habitation
In 2000 one of the most significant Neolithic archaeological sites in Europe was stumbled upon accidentally in Derry.
Thornhill College, situated on the Culmore Road, on the edge of the city, was in the middle of major building extensions when the discovery was made.
Archaeologists unearthed evidence of a New Stone age settlement - possibly the site of Ireland’s first farming community. Among the items found were the remains of timber-built houses as well as a large number of flint and stone tools and pottery.
The size of the settlement suggests that up to 50 people could have lived within it. According to Paul Logue, a Department of Environment archaeologist, 'The importance of the site is simply incredible in terms of understanding how people lived in Ireland 6000 years ago.'
The surrounding pallisade was burnt down at one time and several flint arrowheads were unearthed suggesting possible conflict between the dwellers of the settlement and outsiders. A stone axe was also excavated, broken into two pieces, perhaps the result of 6,000-year-old temper tantrum.
Another implement is thought to have originated in the Lake District in England, indicating that there may have been long-distance trading at the time.