Learning about Mountsandel

Mayor of Causeway Coast and Glens Council Cllr Joan Baird with some of the pupils involved in the activities.
Mayor of Causeway Coast and Glens Council Cllr Joan Baird with some of the pupils involved in the activities.

Pupils from the Irish Society and St. Malachy’s Primary Schools in Coleraine enjoyed an activity filled morning recently visiting Mountsandel Forest to learn all about the important history of this beautiful spot.

P4 and P5 classes were brought together for a series of workshops and activities designed to bring Mountsandel’s ancient past back to life.

The Rotary Club of Coleraine and Mountsandel Discovery and Heritage Group, in conjunction with Causeway Coast and Glens Borough Council Museum Services, invited local primary schools to Mountsandel Forest for an exciting and engaging day of interactive activities.

A variety of fun workshops were provided, to educate and inform pupils on the great historic importance of Mountsandel in Coleraine – the site of the first known human settlement on the island of Ireland, almost 10,000 years ago.

Facilitated by specialists from Causeway Coast and Glens Council and further afield, the pupils attended four separate workshops at four separate locations within Mountsandel – the history of Mountsandel, Foraging, Hunting and Flints and Fishes. Archaeologist Grace McAllister put Mountsandel in context, with activities at Mountsandel’s Mesolithic site.

Archaeologist Dr Nicholas Wright then demonstrated how tools were made in the Mesolithic or middle Stone Age.

Through demonstrations and handling genuine Stone Age artefacts, pupils learned how Mountsandel’s earliest settlers would fashion tiny blades from flint which were then secured to wood to create an array of weapons and tools.

These implements were then used for fishing in the River Bann, hunting in the forest or for building homes.

A foraging workshop was provided by Buzzard Bush Craft where pupils got to explore the rich biodiversity of Mountsandel Forest and to discover how Mesolithic communities would have gathered food and medicines from the vegetation and wildlife of the forest.

Heritage facilitator Jim Allen taught Stone Age hunting techniques through games and other fun activities.

In the afternoon, the Irish Society Primary School hosted refreshments and the final group discussion and quizzes on archaeology.

Attending the event were guests Mayor Joan Baird (Causeway Coast and Glens Borough Council), Alderman Maura Hickey, Councillor William McCandless, and Claire Sugden MLA, an important display of support for a fantastic event which successfully designed new ways to educate local children on the importance of their local history and heritage.