John McCullagh October 29, 2006
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There is firm evidence of early human habitation in the Annalong area. In the mid 1980s when some minor excavation work was being carried out during the making of the Marine Park, some eighty pieces of humanly-worked flint were turned up.

No disciplined academic analysis was performed and there was insufficient evidence to date these artefacts to a specific age. It is thought likely however that they belong to the Middle Stone Age (Mesolithic period) of some 6000-7000 years ago. This is shortly after the retreat of the most recent Ice Age and ranks with the earliest human habitation known in the North of Ireland.

The standing Stone in the nearby townland of Moneydarraghmore – known as the Long Stone – adds evidence to this supposition. The reason for the erection of these stones is often speculated. Some say they mark the site of an ancient grave: some, that there is an astronomical significance: others believe they were mere territory markers: a few, that they were just scratching stones for cattle. Your author believes they were likely to be fertility symbols, they bearing such a phallic appearance and fertility being such a dominant anthropological theme in all ancient cultures.

To move closer to the present – a clan based in what is now the Downpatrick area, the Dal Fiatach held sway in this region in the second half of the first Christian millennium.

Although the coastal side of the mountains – centred on Kilkeel – is now widely known as the Kingdom of Mourne, it is unlikely that it was ever a Kingdom in the proper sense.

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