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Early man – hunter-gatherers and nascent farmers – were doubtless attracted to the shores of the Foyle and Carlingford by the rich shellfish colonies and bountiful sea and river fisheries. These ancient people left their mark on the landscape, relict monuments still visible thousands of years later.

Megalithic burial tombs dating from the Neolithic are, as the name implies, constructed of big (mega) stones (lith). Many date back 5,000 years and they are common features on the hills that frame the catchments of the Foyle and Carlingford. They are arrangements of upright stones, often capped with large flat slabs. A particularly interesting example is found at Ballyrenan, overlooking the Derg valley. These cap stones have ‘cup marks’ cut into them and it is thought that early man left votive offerings in these hollows for their ancestors interred within!

Stone circles and other alignments (including solitary ‘standing stones’) pepper the Ulster landscape. No one can be certain as to their function – if any, beyond the purely decorative! It has been suggested that they played a role in assisting ancient society in plotting the movement of the sun, moon, planets and stars, a way of tracking the seasons or following imagined celestial beings.