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UCD School of Archaeology

Scoil na Seandálaíochta UCD

The Viking Age Archaeology of the Coastline and Islands of Northern Ulster in its North Atlantic Context
Cormac Gillespie

Supervisor: Dr Aidan O'Sullivan

Funded by: Self Funded


The project will pay particular regard to an examination of possible seaways between the Northern Coast of Ireland and Scandinavia via the Pentland Firth and the Minches during Viking Times. The seas surrounding the islands of Faroe, the Hebrides and the Sea of Moyle have some of the most turbulent tidal streams in the world , the most  infamous of these being Corryvreckan now to be found in the Gulf of Corryvreckan on the West Coast of Scotland but reputed to have been in Rathlin Sound in Medieval times.

Now is a good time to examine the possible access routes the Viking ships may have followed into Lough Erne and Lough Neagh in that all waterways on the island of Ireland are constantly supervised and patrolled by Waterways Ireland, one of the two North/South Implementation Bodies that are co-sponsored by the Department of Community, Rural & Gaeltacht Affairs in the South and the Department of Culture, Arts & Leisure in the North and which has its headquarters in Enniskillen.




For the first time in folk memory the ancient Tonn Mhanannain, the burial place of the Irish sea-god,  known on charts as The Tuns Bank is beginning to fragment and has begun to appear above the surface of Lough Foyle. This bank which throws up a great mane of surf in certain wind conditions effectively interrupts direct communications between Co. Derry and Inis Eoghain and tends to filter traffic coming in from the Atlantic in towards the Inis Eoghain shore. Perhaps it is time to scrutinise fully this phenomenon before the Tuns disappear completely.