Page last updated at 07:22 GMT, Thursday, 9 February 2006

Dig reveals Belfast's poor past

The area's residents lived in tiny terraced houses

A bit of old Belfast has come to light with archaeologists excavating in the Cathedral quarter before development begins on a former industrial site.

Part of the old 17th and 18th century town was exposed.

Although it is little more than the outline of brick walls, it has given an insight into the city's past.

It is thought about 1,000 people lived in what was a squalid area, most of them with just a room and a small yard to their name.

Office buildings and a printing press used to cover the lot at Talbot Street.

The site has thrown up few artifacts. One of them was a well preserved shoe found stuck in the mud.

Also uncovered was a 17th century toilet - little more than a barrel buried in the ground.

Archaeologist Colin Dunlop said that little of the very old part of Belfast has been excavated because buildings have been put up on top of the sites.

A shoe was one of the few artifacts uncovered

"Basically we're looking at old Belfast. Sort of the 18th century - whenever this area was a very poor part of the town.

"There were several thousand people living in this very small area, in small terraced housing," he said.

The excavation had to be done quickly before building on the site gets under way.

The developer who is funding the archaeologists is enthusiastic about the find and wants to ensure something remains when the new buildings go up.

Mark Finlay of Barnabas Ventures said: "We found a lot of the old cobbles, floors and streets and so forth.

"It would be nice if we could create a carpet entrance into the building using some of those old materials."

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