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Project 22: Enniskillen – The Development of our County Town

This project will research and record the development of the island town from under & over ground. The findings of such will be uploaded unto the digital memory map and shared with everyone.

Project 22: Enniskillen – The Development of our County Town

Researching what lies underground will inform and supplement existing information/available materials on how Enniskillen has developed over the centuries. 

Much research and information is already available, and it is intended that this project will synthesise and build on these, not duplicate. The surveys and community archaeology dig will create interest and engagement with Enniskillen’s history and heritage.  The findings from the survey and the dig will be uploaded and shared on the memory map, along with memories, stories, maps, photos etc which have been captured as part of this project, hence preserving heritage for all to enjoy.

Volunteers will be trained in metal detecting and geophysical surveying and we are encouraging both adults and children to get involved in the 2-week community archaeological dig.

We will shortly be inviting individuals/organisations to tender for the development and delivery of this project

If you would like to avail of any of the volunteering opportunities connected with this project or if you would like further information on the project, please contact Hazel Long call: 07548 155351 email:

Related Videos

BBC NI join the children unearthing Enniskillen’s forgotten streets

Project Updates

BBC join Enniskillen Backstreets Community Dig – November 2021

We were delighted to be joined by BBC News NI at the Enniskillen Archaeology Dig, and delighted to see some historical BBC footage of the Backstreets of the Island Town. Follow the link below to learn more about the LELP community dig and the history of this fascinating site.

Enniskillen: Children unearthing their town’s forgotten streets

A community archaeological dig in County Fermanagh has been unearthing parts of the forgotten “Backstreets” of Enniskillen.

Up until the early 1960s, houses along the shoreline of the island town became known for their poor living conditions.

They were two-up, two-down accommodation, often with several families in one house.

Sanitary conditions were poor and many of the houses had no toilet and some developed holes in their roofs.

BBC archive from 1964 sheds light on some of the living conditions for the mostly-Catholic residents of the Backstreets.

They were demolished in the late 1960s and local schoolchildren have been helping archaeologists from Queen’s University, Belfast, with the latest dig.

The community excavation has been funded by the National Lottery Heritage Fund. It was organised through the Lough Erne Landscape Partnership (LELP) alongside the Fermanagh County Museum and the Historic Environment Division.

Video journalist: Niall McCracken

Local School Children and Volunteers help with Dig – October 2021

The Enniskillen Archaeological Dig is being very ably assisted by groups of children from local schools in the mornings, and adult volunteers in the afternoons.

Despite the Fermanagh Weather and mud, school groups and volunteers have been undeterred and there have been some very interesting finds.

The excavation is progressing well but remember we are only there until Friday 22nd October 2021 if you want to pop by for a chat and a look! For more information about this project visit

First Trenches open for Enniskillen Dig – October 2021

Excited to see the first trenches being opened for the Enniskillen Archaeological Dig.

Hoping to see lots of exciting finds over the next two weeks as we work with our partners at Queens University Belfast and the Fermanagh County Museum to explore the history of the ‘Backstreets’ of Enniskillen.

Some places still available for volunteers to participate in the dig. E-mail: or ring 07702508777.

Community Based Excavation exploring the Enniskillen Backstreets! – September 2021

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 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).

Enniskillen Dig Training and Fieldwork – July 2021

Are you interested in the stories, artefacts and heritage that can be found hidden from sight?

We are looking for volunteers to be part of the Enniskillen Dig an archaeological project offering volunteers training in the skills of excavation and the opportunity to be part of part in an exciting community excavation to take place later this year.

Part of the Legacy of Landscape project volunteers are invited to participate in an exciting online training course beginning in August and delivered by the team for the Centre for Archaeology, Queens University Belfast.  This online training course will provide you with the skills and knowledge to then participate in the LELP Enniskillen community dig to be held in the autumn.

Open to everyone the course will explore the archaeological process of everything that happens on an excavation. Including why Archaeologists dig where they do, how they uncover stories from the past and how they record what they find!

Does this sound like you?  Complete the form here and return to the team.

This is a truly unique opportunity to learn new skills and be part of an exciting and unique excavation within the town of Enniskillen.  Further information about the Legacy of Landscape project can be  found on the LELP website, or by contacting Heritage Project Manager Hazel Long by emailing

The Lough Erne Landscape Partnerships ‘Legacy of Landscape’ project is supported through funding from the National Lottery Heritage Fund and the Community Foundation Northern Ireland. This innovative heritage programme is being delivered in collaboration with the Centre for Community Archaeology (CCA) and the Centre for Data Digitisation and Analysis (CDDA) at Queen’s University Belfast.

Legacy of Landscape Launch – May 2021

Watch the Legacy of Landscape Launch recording below! 

The Lough Erne Landscape Partnership (LELP) invites you to join us at the virtual launch of our exciting new two-year engagement programme – Legacy of Landscape: The People and Heritage of Lough Erne on Wednesday 19th May at 7:30 pm, with guest speaker Ciaran McMenamin – Fermanagh native, author and actor.  This event will explore our new project, which is focussed on discovering, celebrating and preserving the culture and traditions of the Lough Erne region, both past and present.

Supported through funding from the National Lottery Heritage Fund and the Community Foundation Northern Ireland, this project will be delivered in collaboration with the Centre for Community Archaeology (CCA) and the Centre for Data Digitisation and Analysis(CDDA) at Queen’s University Belfast. The initiative focusses on the built and cultural heritage of Lough Erne, and volunteers can enrol to get access to a suite of FREE ‘at home’ learning opportunities where they can develop and learn new skills and share valuable stories, capturing and promoting the unique and special heritage of the Erne’s landscape and communities.

There are 5 key heritage studies within the programme that are focused around the themes of:

  • Memories:  Life on the Erne
  • Studying Vernacular Buildings
  • Enniskillen: The Development of the Island Town
  • Mapping the Built Heritage of the Islands
  • Power & Pageantry: Exploring Fermanagh in the Times of the Maguires

In order to address the current restrictions due to the pandemic, the collective QUB team have developed the LELP Online Heritage Campus.  Spearheaded by Dr Siobhán McDermott,  this exciting new online learning experience offers you a FREE course of five four-week long ‘toolkits’ or virtual learning experiences that enable you as volunteers to receive tuition from the safety of your own home!

Throughout this two-year project, in addition to our learning sessions, there will be opportunities to participate in the field with archaeological excavations, site visits, buildings recording field schools, as well as a lecture series, online talks, and your chance to contribute towards the development of a dynamic and interactive ‘Memory Map’, showcasing the rich and unique cultural heritage of the Erne.

So, what do we expect from you? 

All we expect is an enthusiastic attitude and an interest in conserving and promoting the heritage of the region. Our online tutors will be available to help, advise, and support you from 10am-4pm Monday to Friday. You do not need to have any previous experience in any of our topics. We will see you through!

Please join us to hear more about our project on Wednesday 19th  May. Our guest speaker, Ciaran McMenamin, will treat us to a reading from his latest book The Sunken Road, in addition to excerpts from his 2017 novel Skintown, sharing with us how the landscapes of Lough Erne have influenced his writing.  Amongst musical interludes from Fermanagh singer songwriter Sean Magee, we are also delighted to be joined by Professor Eileen Murphy, Professor of Archaeology at the School of Natural and Built Environment at Queen’s University Belfast, who will provide more information about the innovative work we will be undertaking around Fermanagh.