Community Based Excavation exploring the Enniskillen Backstreets!

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Visitors to Enniskillen this week may have noticed a hive of activity in the Queen Street area of the town.  Queens University Belfast is leading a community archaeology dig on behalf of the Lough Erne Landscape Partnership on a site often referred to as the ‘Back Streets’ of the Island town. This initiative forms part of the Legacy of Landscape project, being delivered in partnership with Fermanagh County Museum and the Historical Environment Division funded by the National Lottery Heritage Fund. The CCA have been at the heart of the development and delivery of place-based community archaeology within Northern Ireland, over the period 2015 to 2021, we have worked with approximately 22 Community Based Excavations!

Up until the early 1960s Strand Street ran along the shoreline at the bottom of Queen Street, other streets: Mary, Abbey and Dame streets ran parallel to Queen Street and housed of hundreds of people. The “backstreets” were demolished as part of the Riverside Redevelopment Plan in Enniskillen from the mid-1950s to early 1963. New housing was built across the shore at Cornagrade, Kilmacormick and Hillview. This type of “redevelopment” plan was seen across the UK at this time.

We don’t know what we will find and that’s the exciting bit. We do know that the project will help the children, and all involved learn more about the changing pattern of settlement off the island and the change in land use on the island. As well as learning about life in the “Back Streets.”

The knowledge gained from this community excavation and the stories from the people who once lived on these streets aims to build on the oral history and narrative as set out in a book called A Dander down the Streets, published in 1988 by the Kilmacormick WEA History Group.

There will be limited numbers of volunteers allowed on site during the afternoons, with some places remaining for volunteers to take part. An early evening Cèilidh is also being planned for the 23rd November 2021 to showcase the findings of the excavation, to get together and to share some of the stories and memories of those who once lived in the Back Streets of Enniskillen.

Limited places will be available to participate in the dig, so please let us know as soon as possible if you would be interested.

To get involved, please contact: Elmarie Swanepoel on elmarie.swanepoel@rspb.org.uk or phone 0770 250 8777.

2 hour timeslots will be available during the afternoons of 12th – 15th October 2021 and the following week 18th – 21st October 2021 (2 – 4 pm).

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