The 13th of May 2017 will be a day we will look back on for the rest of our lives. We were delighted to be invited to take part in the excavation of the WWII Battle of Britain Spitfire R6992. We joined a team of aviation historians, Queens University Belfast surveyors, local students and professional archaeologists supported by Monahan county museum for the excavation. Although the site was mostly cleared by the Irish army on the day of the crash, pieces of metal showed up under a radar that surveyed the area in early January of this year.
Throughout the day we had the amazing opportunity to speak with experienced archaeologists and geologists. Members of the local community gathered to witness the unearthing of this historical wreckage, including a woman named Josie McCusker who witnessed the crash and the aftermath of the crash around 75 years ago.
It was an early rise for both of us as we made our way to the meeting point, hard hats in hand and trowels at the ready. We were introduced to the team and there was great excitement and no hesitation to start the excavation immediately. After the marking out of the area using metal detectors the digger began to clear the area. Immediately after the area was cleared by the digger we began to uncover pieces of the broken plane in the trench. Just as the team were about to give up on finding the famous Rolls-Royce Merlin V12 engine associated with the spitfire planes, they decided to have one more go at finding the engine by taking one last layer of soil off, and they struck gold.
Everybody was ecstatic with the team finding about a quarter of the engine. We gathered to have our picture taken with this historic artefact. We are thankful to Monaghan County Museum for offering us this once in a lifetime chance to witness and be part of an archaeology team and their project to safely excavate the remainder of the Battle of Britain spitfire R6992. We are glad to say that the history of the plane did not end when it crashed on the 20th of September 1942 and we are proud to say that we are forever a part of the spitfire’s history
Ruth Dooley Duffy and Éabha Campbell
5th Year Students
Beech Hill College