An archaeological dig taking place in the county over the coming weeks is looking for all archaeological enthusiasts to come and help find out more about a historical battle which took place over 400 years ago.

Cuilcagh to Cleenish (C2C) is calling for volunteers to take part in Fermanagh’s first ever community-led archaeological dig at Arney Fort.

Funded by the National Lottery Heritage Fund and Fermanagh and Omagh District Council the dig is a rare and exciting opportunity to become involved in an excavation of a scheduled monument about which little is known.

Arney Fort is located on the south bank of the River Arney close to the location of the Battle of the Ford of the Biscuits which was fought in August 1594 between an English force marching from Dublin to relieve Enniskillen castle, and local Gaelic chiefs led by Hugh Maguire. The battle was the opening round of what became known as the Nine Years War.

The route taken by the English relief column across the fording point on the Arney River is now believed to have been previously known as atha na Meirleach (Ford of the Robbers), or atha na nGall (Ford of the Foreigners), and was part of an ancient routeway between Ulster and Connaught along the western shores of Upper Lough Erne.

At that time Arney Fort and the ancient routeway may have been located at, or close to, the furthermost inland extent of flood water around Upper Lough Erne which had water levels 10-12 feet higher than today.

C2C Local coordinator Barney Devine is looking forward to the dig: “What we may uncover in the dig is a real mystery and we could get evidence from different periods of history ranging from the Bronze and Iron ages, through to early Christian and medieval periods.

“However, the main theory underpinning the excavation currently is that it may reveal what is known as an Anglo Norman style moated site possibly dating as far back as the 13th century AD.”

He added: “This is a great opportunity for local participation in such an exciting dig and to learn practical archaeology skills.

“Five archaeologists from Northern Archaeological Consultancy Ltd (NAC) will work on the excavation under the leadership of Jonathan Barkley the site director. The archaeologists will supervise volunteers and train them in excavation techniques and recording.”

Lorraine Robinson from The National Lottery Heritage Fund is very much looking forward to experiencing the dig first hand: “We love helping people to get hands on with their heritage so what could be better than getting to take part in an archaeological dig.

“We were delighted to fund this project which is actively supporting local communities to research, showcase and connect their heritage to create a trail that local people and visitors can experience and enjoy. ”

Other research points to possible links between the fort and the writers of the Annals of Ulster which was compiled in nearby Belle Isle.

A late bronze age sword from around 750 B.C. came to light in 2015 at the 16th century battle site, and as recently as May 2019 a late bronze age axe head was uncovered at the same location providing further evidence that sword, axe head, fort, ford, battle site and ancient route way may have been connected as far back as the bronze age.

Finding out who built the fort may unlock a great deal about this part of our ancient landscape.

The dig will be open for six days a week from Monday, September 16, 2019 until Monday, September 30, 2019.

It will be closed on Sunday, September 22 and 29. From Monday to Thursday the dig will start at 9am and finish at 4pm.

There will be a 30-minute lunch break at 12.30 pm. Fridays start at noon and finish at 7.00 pm.

Open days for the public will be on both Saturdays from 1pm to 4pm.

For further information and to receive the volunteer and open day schedule information contact