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Tuesday, August 17, 1999 Published at 16:01 GMT 17:01 UK

UK: Northern Ireland

4,000-year-old grave uncovered

A prehistoric grave is uncovered by archaeologists

Archaeologists exploring a site in Northern Ireland have uncovered a 4,000-year-old grave as well as ancient artefacts.

The grave was discovered during an excavation in the ruins of Newtownstewart Castle in County Tyrone by the government sponsored archaeological team.

[ image: Ruairi O'Baoill: not expecting to find a 4,000-year-old grave]
Ruairi O'Baoill: not expecting to find a 4,000-year-old grave
Excavation director Ruairi O'Baoill was surprised to make the discovery.

"We were expecting to uncover evidence about life here some 400 years ago, not about death 4,000 years ago," he said.

The remains of two people were found in the grave - described by archaeologists as a "cist".

Cist graves are described as small square pits which are lined with stone slabs and covered by a capstone.

"The burial may be an inhumation or a cremation as both types have been recovered on other Bronze Age sites," said Mr O'Baoill.

Grave 'may not be alone'

Also found in the grave were two bronze pots and the archaeological team believe more graves could be found nearby.

"One possibility we have to consider is that this cist may not be alone," said Mr O'Baoill.

"As well as being a fine Plantation building, Newtownstewart Castle may also become known as the site of a Bronze Age cemetery."

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