Published Thursday, 27 December 2012
The dig is the first substantial excavation at a NI crannóg. (© DOE)
So far, the dig, near the new A32 Cherrymount Link Road, has revealed a huge treasure trove enabling archaeologists to piece together a snap shot of life in Ireland dating back as far as the 9th century.
A unique wooden bowl with a cross carved into its base, parts of wooden vessels with interlace decoration, exquisite combs, a large pottery collection, "chess like" pieces for games, and timber foundations for dozens of houses are among the exquisite items uncovered.
This is the second time the project has been extended.
In June, excavations began into what has become the first ever substantial dig at a crannóg (a man-made island on a lake) in the north.
During a review the following month, archaeologists were given more time to recover information from the site which has turned out to be of international significance.
Currently scheduled to end on Sunday, Minister Alex Attwood has confirmed that the project will now continue through to March.
"The excavation is a once in a century opportunity. It will reshape national and international thinking on crannogs and the lives of people stretching back 1,300 years at least," the SDLP minister continued.
"A unique moment requires a unique approach," he added.
"What has been found will ultimately lead to a reassessment of life in Ulster in Early Christian and medieval times. It is of international importance.
"Given all of that, it is important that we maximise the opportunity to unveil as much of our rich heritage here as possible."
Mr Attwood continued: "A site such as this can teach us so much about our past.
"It is a real archeological jewel. It further enriches our fascinating history making it another tourist magnet.
"The built and natural heritage will be the biggest part of future increases in tourist numbers and spend-an essential element of our economy and jobs."