Due to its unique geography the Binevenagh and Coastal Lowlands has held huge strategic importance across the ages. As a result, it’s flat coastal plains and prominent uplands have been dotted with defence heritage features throughout centuries, particularly the Napoleonic, WWI, WWII and Cold War periods. Evidence of historic conflicts and military use abounds in the area; however, little is known about the earlier (pre-Napoleonic) archaeology of the area and there has never been a concerted effort to unearth and interpret archaeology relating to WWI, WWII and the Cold War.
Changing land-use and pressure for development means that there is an urgent need to capture, preserve, understand and value this unique heritage resource before it is lost.
Built Heritage Conservation and Access Enhancement
This project aims to research, explore and where possible provide public access (both physical and/or digital) to sites of defence heritage interest in the Binevenagh and Coastal Lowlands area. Working with the landowner, the WWII Trainer Dome at Limavady will be conserved and repurposed as a multi-use event space. Similarly, in partnership with HMP Magilligan, CCGBC and the MoD the Heavy Anti-Aircraft Battery at Magilligan will be conserved and repurposed as an interpretive hub and visitor area relating to defence heritage from the Napolaeonic period to the present day. All conservation works will be carried out in consultation with the Department for Communities: Historic Environment Division. This project will ensure that the local community has a greater role in the management and maintenance of these unique assets and provide new public access to previously closed sites.
Community Archaeology and Training
This project aims to research, explore and where possible provide public access to sites of local heritage interest for which little or no public information is available. In addition the local community will have an opportunity to volunteer and learn new heritage skills through the delivery of these activities. There are three key activities.
• Archaeologists from Queen’s University Belfast will deliver a community archaeology event to explore WWI training trenches within the Ministry of Defence Estate at Magilligan Point. The work will enable an accurate interpretation of the physical remains within the camp to be undertaken, with the local community working alongside professional archaeologists to increase understanding of life of the soldiers and the training regime at Magilligan during WWI.
• A community archaeology event at upland site of archaeological interest for in the Binevenagh area.
• Conservation, training and volunteering activities at ‘Farlow Wood and Sampson’s Tower’ led by Roe Valley Ancestral Researchers.
Bi-Centenary OS Survey celebration
This project’s purpose is to celebrate the bicentenary of the OS in Ireland (1822-2022) by drawing on local enthusiasm and interest in the OS Lough Foyle baseline and its history and monuments. It will involve local community volunteer researchers working in collaboration with academic researchers from QUB in Geography and Archaeology to carry out desktop research followed by fieldwork which will aim to uncover and record surviving physical features of the Lough Foyle baseline, as well as highlight its impact on the local landscape and history. This work will form the basis for the bicentenary event, which will include an exhibition based on the project’s findings and a conference which will explore the influence of the survey techniques developed in the Binevenagh and Coastal Lowlands area on mapping exercises around the globe – notably the Ordnance Survey of India under the leadership of Sir George Everest.
Community Heritage Initiatives
This project delivers a range of community led heritage initiatives which cover cultural history and built heritage and are designed to engage the public with local history in a new way. The initiatives include:
• A series of publications produced by member of the Roe Valley Ancestral Researchers covering shipwrecks in the Binevenagh area, local war involvements, a historic pamphlet series which will support self-guided tours of the Binevenagh area and a publication celebrating storytelling and lore of the area.
• Working with Museum Services to provide training and facilities for the collection of local history and archiving of material through Community Archive NI.
• Promoting Aghanloo Community Association’s interesting and notable history through new community driven semi-permanent interpretation and groundworks improvement.
• multi-platform art and design programme led by Boyle Blowe Design Studio to engage the public in the built defence heritage structure of the former RAF Trainer Dome at Aghanloo, and wider context of defence heritage structures along the coastline.
• Additional engagement in, and awareness of, the Limavady Workhouse highlighting how the workhouse was shaped by, and equally shaped the historic landscape and its people.
• Accredited tour guide training opportunities for local people