Page last updated at 05:52 GMT, Monday, 30 March 2009 06:52 UK

2.2m grant to open historic site

Castle Hill, Dungannon
Castle Hill in Dungannon is to benefit from a Hertitage Lottery Fund grant

An historic site in County Tyrone is to be opened up to the public for the first time in 400 years through a £2.24m lottery grant.

The Heritage Lottery Fund has confirmed that Castle Hill, a medieval stronghold of the O'Neill clan, is to benefit from the grant.

Castle Hill was also the residence of Sir Arthur Chichester, and the site of a Ministry of Defence security base.

The Grade B listed Ranfurly House will be refurbished as part of the scheme.

The project has been developed by Dungannon and South Tyrone Borough Council and will include the redevelopment of Castle Hill's disused parkland to create a public park.

Its two landmark towers, the last remaining structures from the 18th century Knox Hannyngton House, will also be repaired.

The former Belfast Banking Company building, Ranfurly House, will be fully refurbished and extended to provide exhibition space, interpretive galleries, a tourist information centre and much needed community arts facilities.

"Castle Hill is of historical, archaeological and indeed, national importance and this huge investment by HLF will help to transform this heritage asset," the head of the Heritage Lottery Fund in Northern Ireland, Paul Mullan, said.

"For the first time, Castle Hill and its surrounding parklands will be opened up and the general public will have full and free access to land and views that have been unseen for generations."

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