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St Patrick's Primary School

Together Everyone Achieves More. Journey to Learning

The Stone Age

This is Mount Sandel Fort, the area marked in blue is where one of the earliest recorded settlements in Ireland existed, these early hunter-gathers would have more than likely moved up the river from settlements in the dune system at Portstewart. The whole country at that time would have been densely forested and the river provided the easiest way to travel. They lived by hunting animals, fishing and gathering nuts, berries and natural foods. When they encountered the rapids at the Salmon Leap or Cutts they would have discovered an ideal site with abundant salmon. 

The area was excavated by Peter Woodman in 1972 and provided evidence of these early settlers dating back to 7000 BC, one of the oldest recorded sites of human settlement in Ireland and testament to the legacy of Coleraine. The evidence uncovered included hut sites, hearths, storage pits, flint workings and food remains of fish, wild boar, birds and nuts.  

The fort of Mount Sandel as we see it today, although much older, was probably taken over and improved during the Norman period and before the bridge and castle at Coleraine. There was a ford or crossing point close by and it would have provided a strategic control point along the river, there is evidence of two other forts upstream.