5. Early Christian era- Ardstraw Graveyard.
The Ui Fiachragh’s church at Ardstraw was reputedly founded by St Patrick and was under the charge of a bishop. By the early Seventh Century it was a monastery founded by St Eugene and a place of great importance. So important, in fact, that in 1099 it was recorded as having a stone church. This is earliest record of such a building in the north of Ireland outside of Armagh. The building would have had a steep roof echoing the form of its timber predecessor and all would have been enclosed by a circular wall similar to the graveyard boundary of today. The bridge below was a favoured place for negotiations between local lords in conflict, with agreements sealed in the church. The graveyard was the burial place of kings. Not just the Ui Fiachragh, but, on occasion, their overlords the Ui Neill and a branch of their successors in the medieval period: the O’Neill’s.