Open Day for people who dig archaeology

Members of the public getting first-hand experience of an archaeological investigation last year. (Submitted Picture).
Members of the public getting first-hand experience of an archaeological investigation last year. (Submitted Picture).

If you really ‘dig’ the past then why not head to Cushendall on September 17 for the Archaeological Excavation Open Day at Retreat Castle.

Initial investigations have been carried out at an archaeological landscape known as Retreat Castle overlooking the Glens town in Glenballyeamon. Many local people themselves didn’t even know this castle existed which makes this site even more intriguing.

With a lot of research, Queens University Archaeologist Dr Colm Donnelly has managed to pull together a great story of the history of this Retreat Castle.

The excavation began on September 12, with all local primary schools taking part in the excavation, surveying, identifying and recording artefacts and finding out about the history of this fantastic piece of landscape.

There will be a Public Open Day on Saturday, September 17 with sessions running from 10am to 11.30 and from 12.30-2pm which will provide an opportunity for everyone who’s interested to come along and find out about the history of the site and take part in real time archaeological investigations.

There will also be an opportunity for keen volunteers to join the archaeologists throughout the duration of the dig, but please register your interest with the Heart of The Glens Landscape Partnership first.

Laura McAuley, Outreach and Volunteer Officers for the Heart of The Glens LPS, said: “Our two previous archaeological digs at Cushendun Beach and Dún Mór have generated huge community interest.

“We know that there is a little bit of mystery surrounding the Retreat Castle, so this also should be a great experience for local people to engage with professional archaeologists who are unlocking the secrets of the past,” Laura added.

If you would like to come along to the excavation please get in touch with Laura on 02820752100 or email

The Heart of The Glens Landscape Partnership Scheme is a programme that aims to provide a space to facilitate people to reconnect with the natural landscape, their native heritage as well as providing training in heritage skills, promoting tourism and business opportunities.

To do this they are keen to link with the community though a range of projects, activities and events that will enhance understanding the unique heritage of The Glens and ensure that local heritage skills and training opportunities are available for all.

The scheme is funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund and the NIEA and focuses on conserving and enhancing the natural and built heritage of the areas in the traditional Glens from Glentaise between Ballycastle and Armoy, in the north, to Glenarm in the south as well as some of Glenravel and the uplands near Loughgiel.