Top archaeological discoveries in Northern Ireland

Looking after many ancient sites in Northern Ireland, our places and spaces have shared many important archaeological finds. From sieges to Saint Patrick, our castles and forts have seen it all. Our experts and archaeologists have unearthed surprises in our soil and wonders in our walls which speak of stories and secrets past. With significant historical connections and scenic settings, discover the myth, legend and history behind some of the oldest places in our care.

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History of our castles in Northern Ireland

If ‘Game of Thrones’ ignited an interest in castles, then learn more about the real history of some of our most important castles in Northern Ireland. The castle ruins in our care speak of sieges and centuries ceased. Watch Malachy Conway, Archaeologist for National Trust NI reveal the history and heritage behind three of our most famous castles.

The Rough Fort, a fortified farmstead dating back to 500 AD, has been refurbished thanks to a £2,000 donation from the North Coast Association

The Rough Fort 

Located a mile west of Limavady, the Rough Fort is the first property acquired by the National Trust in Northern Ireland. Built in the Bronze Age, it is a remarkable earthwork known as a Rath or Ring Fort. It is one of the best examples of a Rath in Northern Ireland and one of the best-preserved in our care.

Dunseverick Castle

Dunseverick Castle 

Perched on the Causeway coastline, Dunseverick Castle is an ancient royal site of the Dál Riada, a Gaelic kingdom from at least the 5th century AD. Located near the small County Antrim village of Dunseverick, this impressive coastal promontory fort was said to have been blessed by Saint Patrick.

Artist's impression of the Queen Anne House at Castle Coole

Walking through history of Castle Coole - Queen Anne Tour

Castle Coole is widely recognised as one of the finest neo-classical houses in Ireland. While the 18th century mansion is the longest standing, it was not the only historic house which belonged to the famous Fermanagh estate. It was in fact the third historic house which made the Enniskillen parkland its home. Unearth the story of three historic houses hiding in plain sight.

Neolithic log boat at Strangford Lough - as it is today

Neolithic log boat at Strangford Lough

One of the most impressive archaeological discoveries in Northern Ireland is the Neolithic log boat at Strangford Lough. Sitting in the sands at Grey Abbey Bay, a sample of this amazing archaeological find was radiocarbon dated to between 3499 and 3032 BC. This makes it over 5,000 years old and the oldest boat in Ireland found in a marine setting.

New Norman motte dating back 800 years is revealed at Mount Stewart

800-year-old Norman motte uncovered at Mount Stewart

Rangers and volunteers spent over 150 hours clearing overgrown shrubbery and invasive trees that threatened the historic monument