Archaeologist examines Coleraine tunnel

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An archaeologist from DOE’s Historic Environment Division has examined the tunnel uncovered in Coleraine last Wednesday.

The specialists believes that the tunnel, at Kingsgate Street, is likely to date back to the 18th century, and may have been a passageway between cellars.

In a statement to The Coleraine Times, a DoE spokesperson revealed: “The tunnel is a stone built, vaulted subterranean structure and runs for at least 12 metres under Kingsgate Street. The stone walls of the tunnel are well built and walls are well finished on the interior side.

“The tunnel is approximately 0.90m wide and 1.60m high, large enough to have been used as a passageway. A length of the original vaulted roof also survives.

“Examination showed that this is not the first time that the feature has been uncovered, as the sewage drains and water main running along the street had been cut through the stonework, and the tunnel blocked with red brick. The roof of the tunnel had also been repaired using metal beams along with brick and stone rubble.

“The structure is likely to date to the 18th century and may have been a passageway between cellars. It was initially thought that the tunnel may have been a drain. However, it is completely dry, with no indication that it ever carried water and the floor is relatively level. Intriguingly, there are local traditions about passageways between cellars of various properties within the historic town.

“After facilitating inspection, NI Water resealed the opening to allow completion of the repair works.”