Medieval houses found at Tullyhogue fort, Co. Tyrone

Tullyhogue fort from the air (source)

Archaeologists from Queen’s University have uncovered the foundations of a number of medieval houses at Tullyhogue fort, Co. Tyrone, which may once have belonged to members of the O’Hagan clan. During the Middle Ages Tullyhogue was an important inauguration site of the O’Neill kings of Ulster, who were ‘crowned’ upon a stone throne adjacent to the fort. The O’Hagans played a significant role in this royal ceremony and were the hereditary guardians of Tullyhogue, where they resided. The fort, which is defined by a large circular bank, remained an inauguration place of the O’Neill’s until 1602 when it was captured and destroyed by an Elizabethan army under the command of Lord Mountjoy.

The inauguration of an O’Neill chief at Tulyhogue depicted on a map from 1602

Describing the recent archaeological findings at Tullyhogue, The Environment Minister for Northern Ireland, Mark H Durkan stated:

‘The houses uncovered so far are small sub-rectangular buildings marked now only by their surviving floors and measure around 5m by 3m internally. They would have had sod or clay walls supporting angled roof timbers known as crucks. A fire, set in its hearth at the centre of the house, would have heated the building, with the smoke rising to find its way out through a thatched or sod roofAt least two houses have been found so far along with the fragmentary remains of a possible two or three more. Archaeologists suspect that many more lie dotted around the hill, forming an O’Hagan farming settlement that supported the elite members of the clan who lived in the fort or nearby on the hill.’

The excavation site at Tullyhogue (image NIEA)

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