Guest Author - Mary Ellen Sweeney
Toome Bypass workers discovered artifacts dating back to 7000 B.C. while excavating for the construction. Located in Toomebridge in County Antrim, the dig is one of the oldest settlements ever found, and it shows the transition from hunter-gatherers to farming.
Some 8000 pieces of flint have been recovered, including microlith tools and blades, items used in hunting and fishing, and shards of pottery. The artifacts unearthed reveal interesting information about the lives of our ancestors, the way they lived, how they lived, and where they lived.
The finds range from Mesolithic (7,000-3,500 B.C.) and Neolithic (4,000-2,500 B.C.) to the Bronze Age (2,500-1,200 B.C.) all they way to the 18th and 19th centuries.
The finds are the most significant discovery in the province since a 4,000-year-old grave was discovered during an excavation in the ruins of Newtownstewart Castle in County Tyrone in 1999.
The archaelogist in charge, Paul McCooey is quoted as saying, "One of the most thrilling finds has been a two-bladed Bronze Age knife, the size of a man's hand, carved from flint. It's extremely rare and beautiful. I've never seen one outside a textbook before." and "These people came to Ireland several thousand years after the last ice age, paddling across the Irish Sea from Scotland in dugout canoes covered in skins.