Report by Sandra Millsopp
Bangor Historical Society held its final meeting of the 2011-2012 season on 12 April at the North Down Museum. The AGM was held first. The most significant change to the society officers was the retirement of Paul McKay as secretary. For 21 years he has served the society faithfully in a vital role, organising speakers and outings in particular. The chairman Bob McKinley made a presentation to him on behalf of the society to mark Paulís excellent work over so many years. Committee member Ronnie McClements is taking on the role of secretary. Ellen Elder left the committee after making an important contribution for three years.
The speaker for the evening was Leanne Briggs of the North Down Museum. She gave us a fascinating talk on the archaeology of North Down. She began by showing us a time line to illustrate the periods she would be talking about. Leanne, who has a degree in archaeology, has been trying to track down artefacts from the area. We were shown a picture of antlers from a Great Irish Elk found in Balloo bog. These hang in the Town Hall and are about 6,000 years old.
Unfortunately in the early twentieth century a local resident acquired artefacts from local farmers etc and sold them for profit to museums, including the National Museum in Dublin. Details of the finds were not recorded and this makes it difficult to trace their exact origin. Leanne has been visiting the National Museum in Dublin and has been able to recover some of the local objects.
Bronze Age swords have been found in the North Down area. A rapier was discovered in Groomsport, but the most famous finds were the Ballycroghan swords. The latter had no associated finds Ė a very rare occurrence. Wooden lined pits were found in a number of places and these were used for cooking. Pegs used in the construction of a timber trackway were found in a garden in Riverside.
Wooden parts of weapons and tools do not normally survive, but the museum has commissioned modern reconstructions of them so it is possible to see what axes and halberds from Cotton would have originally looked like.
The best known part of Bangorís history is the early monastic period. Finds from this era included trial pieces from the Gransha mound and the remains of a Viking burial at Ballyholme. One of the greatest treasures of the museum is the Bangor Bell which has been dated to the eighth century. Leanne also referred to recent excavations at Bangor Abbey when human remains were found.
Finally we were told about the new project for the Raven Maps of 1625. They have been digitised and visitors to the museum can use a screen to view the different maps and magnify selected areas.
Irwin Bonar thanked the speaker for a most interesting talk.