Near Irish 'Little Pompeii,' an Even More Ancient Site
Traces of buildings have been found along cliffs near a well-known castle
By Elizabeth Armstrong Moore,  Newser Staff
Posted Jan 21, 2015 1:36 PM CST
A stone structure near Dunluce Castle along the coast of Northern Ireland dates back to the 1400s.   (Northern Ireland Environment Agency)

(Newser) – The settlement of Dunlace on Northern Ireland's craggy North Coast is thought to have been founded in 1608, but was eventually abandoned after a fire destroyed much of it in 1642. The settlement, first unearthed in 2009, reports the Belfast Telegraph, has been called Little Pompeii, and it's proving interesting indeed. The latest discovery made by researchers digging around Dunlace Castle, which once housed the powerful MacQuillan family, is a buried stone structure that appears far older—radiocarbon dating of a fireplace inside dates it back to the late 1400s, reports LiveScience, and unlike 17th-century dwellings, the doorway was in the corner.

"We are extremely lucky," says the environment minister. "Very few 15th-century buildings, other than those built entirely from stone, have survived in Ulster and normally there would be few traces, if any, for archaeologists to investigate." Researchers think these old buildings may have formed a small settlement just outside the castle, and pottery found at the site from the late medieval period suggests that there was more industry in the area earlier than previously thought. (A UK dig uncovered the remains of a 4,200-year-old skeleton and his dagger.)