A History of Coleraine

With information on where to find key artefacts

Situated on the River Bann, 5 km from the sea and with an impressive history dating back to Ireland’s earliest known settlers, Coleraine today is a major gateway to the popular Causeway Coast area.

9000 years old, Mountsandel (now a suburb of Coleraine) is the site of the earliest known settlement in Ireland. The area was a rich source of salmon with easy access to the sea and the fertile valley of the Bann river. Mountsandel occupies a strategic position above a ford in the river. Since that time there has been continuous activity in the area - notably the Vikings used the Bann as a ’highway’ and the Normans built the first bridge across the Bann at Coleraine.

In the 13th century, Coleraine was a renowned centre for Christianity and learning. However the town as we know it today is based on the Plantation plans for a fortified town in what became the County of Londonderry (Derry being the other Plantation town ’planted’ for the County). Established by King James I in 1610,  The Honourable Irish Society (a Company of wealthy London Merchant Guilds) directed and managed the ’Planting’ of the area, which comprised building and populating the town. Today that organisation maintains strong links with the town.

Further detail can be found in the Walking Heritage Guide of Coleraine Town - ’Round the Ramparts’ produced by local historians, Causeway Museum Service, Coleraine Town Partnership and the University of Ulster. Coleraine Borough Council is a partner in the Causeway Museum Service with Moyle District Council, Limavady and Ballymoney Borough Councils.

The Coleraine collection is owned by the Council and features in new regional museum built in the town centre. Temporary exhibitions have also been held in the Town Hall. For further information please check Tourist Information and What’s On Guide for Coleraine Borough Council.

Key items relating to Coleraine’s past are held by the Ulster Museum and the Environment and Heritage Service - Mountsandel finds, the Bann Disc, the Loughan Brooch etc. However key items held in Coleraine Museum's latest collection include the Coleraine Mace -a finely worked piece of gilded silver presented to the town in 1702; the Ferrara sword presented in 1616 by the London Companies; a beautiful watercolour of the 1913 stained glass window in the Town Hall; the Revival Bible from 1859, a collection of Hugh Thompson illustrated books, illuminated address books by Cary & Thompson and a number of watercolours of the area.

For further information about Coleraine Museum, please contact:

Causeway Museum Service
Coleraine Borough Council
66 Portstewart Rd
BT 52 1 EY
Tel: +44 (0)28 7034 7234