IT'S been hailed as one of the most incredible archeological finds in Ireland – and now it's about to be concreted over.
The ancient settlement was discovered under the path of a controversial new road development, forcing a team of archaeologists to complete a race- against-time excavation.
As the final samples were taken from the 1,400 year-old Drumclay crannog in Enniskillen, Co Fermanagh, experts who oversaw the dig on the manmade wooden island have hailed it as one of the most incredible finds ever in Ireland.
Excavation director Dr Nora Bermingham said: "I think it would be fair to say that this is probably the pinnacle of my archaeological career.
"I would say everybody here knows that they are working on an incredible excavation that we probably won't see the like of again. It's just amazing the material we are finding."
Such expert assessment is part of reason the decision to proceed with the road build has been met with vocal local opposition.
For 10 months archaeologists worked nearly non-stop to peel back century upon century of perfectly preserved remains from the wetland site while the A32 road project was halted.
More than 4,000 artefacts, including a medieval board game, a gold ring, finely decorated metal dress pins, leather shoes, drinking vessels and carved bowls, were uncovered inside the flattened wooden homes. Even a 600-year-old human body was found.
The plan is that most will eventually go on public display in Enniskillen once they are studied further and treated with special preservatives.
But after a series of extensions to allow further exploration, the site itself is being reburied – this time under the Cherrymount link road.
The crannog is all but gone, with the wooden structures having been removed section by section.
Heavy plant diggers will return to the site from tomorrow when it is officially handed back to the engineers from the Department of Regional Development's Road Service, which is under pressure to finish before the G8 summit is held in Fermanagh in June.