GLOBAL VISION (9K GIF)

A NON GOVERNMENTAL ORGANISATION ACCREDITED TO THE UNITED NATIONS
THE ANCIENT IRISH MONUMENTS APPEAL

TO THE GOVERNMENT OF THE REPUBLIC OF IRELAND

FOR THE PROTECTION OF OUR MEGALITHIC MONUMENTS


This appeal is open for signature.
Members of the public are invited to sign it
by completing the form at the bottom of this page.
List of signatories last updated 26 July 2003.


Ireland's ancient legacy of megalithic monuments – including Newgrange, Knowth and Dowth at the Boyne Valley UNESCO World Heritage Site – are under threat by Dúchas / The Heritage Council, the government agency responsible for their protection. Their mismanaged restoration and conservation is of global concern because:

  • These monuments are among the oldest astronomical observatories in the world. Constructed from 5,800 to 3,000 BCE as sacred sites by the Pre-Indo-European indigenous people of this continent, they pre-date Stonehenge, the Pyramids of Egypt, and the astronomical monuments of Mesopotamia and Sumer by entire millennia.

  • They contain the oldest buildings and largest collection of petroglyphic art in Europe.

  • Some of the monuments are designed for the measurement of time, correlating the lunar cycle with the solar year and perhaps creating the world's earliest 365-day calendar.

  • The apparent astronomical design of many of these monuments and their extremely early date suggest that the origins of the scientific method may have been developed by Indigenous People on the Atlantic coast of Europe in the middle and late Stone Age, rather than by the urban inhabitants of the great empires of Greece, Egypt, Mesopotamia and Sumer, as previously believed.

We are extremely concerned that the five and half thousand year old sites of Knowth and Dowth and the world's largest complex of megalighic passage-mounds at Carrowmore, are not being properly cared for. According to reliable eyewitness reports and photographic evidence, the result of the so-called reconstruction work at Knowth is that:

  • The Eastern entrance to the great passage-mound has been blocked with a slab of concrete. Not only does this sabotage the architectural, artistic and astronomical integrity of the monument, but it also precludes any further observation and research on the illumination of the passage by the sunbeam which would otherwise enter it at dawn around the Spring Equinox.

  • An important gnomon (standing stone sundial) in front of the Eastern entrance on the East side of the cairn has not yet been replaced in its original socket; if this is not done when Dúchas re-opens the site to the public, it will make it impossible to evaluate a key astronomical function of the site (since its counterparts in front of the Western passage of Knowth and the passage at Newgrange cast a shadow on the vertical marker of the petroglyphs on the respective entrance stones of those passages, announcing and confirming their astronomical alignments).

  • A visitor's centre has been inserted inside the cairn, and a steel footbridge now abuts the mound where the Eastern entrance should be, producing a jarring effect like a plastic handle attached to an antique wooden bowl.

  • Instead of controlling the drainage within the cairn by restoring the ingenious original design of alternating layers of natural organic and inorganic building materials (sods of turf, brown clay, shale and pebbles) which kept the passage and chamber of Newgrange bone dry for five millennia, these have been replaced by a combination of concrete, styrofoam and putty which are hardly appropriate for one of Europe's oldest sacred buildings, and which are alleged to result in Europe's largest collection of Neolithic petroglyphic art now being frequently soaked by rainwater.

This is but one example of the outdated paradigm – still espoused by some archaeologists funded by the Irish Government – which continues to ignore, deny, and suppress the growing body of research and evidence that many of these monuments were not only used for burial and other ritual purposes, but were also designed as astronomical observatories which still function accurately five to eight millennia after their construction.

We ask you to take your responsibility to preserve Ireland's ancient megalithic heritage more seriously, by taking immediate steps to implement the following recommendations:

  1. Remove the concrete slab which now blocks the Eastern passage at Knowth.

  2. Suspend and reconsider all restoration plans for Knowth, Dowth ,Tara and Carrowmore, and ensure that no other Irish megalithic sites be allowed to suffer the same fate as Knowth.

  3. Create a transparent research and policy environment where decisions are no longer made in secret behind closed doors. Publish archaeological findings and reports in a timely fashion on the World Wide Web for peer review and creative input by interested parties, before further policy decisions, strategies, and reconstruction plans are made. This should include all surveys made before existing reconstruction, so that interested parties can evaluate changes in the alignments of the monuments, if any, that have been made during the past 30 years.

  4. Do not reconstruct sites unless absolutely necessary, use non-invasive research techniques whenever possible, do not drastically change the sites' appearance for the sake of attracting tourist revenues, and never change the alignments or positions of passages and important or decorated stones.

  5. Prevent excavations and sites from becoming private property.

  6. Stop bringing hundreds of visitors per day inside the cairn at Newgrange, where the passage orthostats and petroglyphs are being damaged due to constant brushing by visitors' clothes.

  7. Support the International Institute of Astroarchaeology's endeavour to integrate astronomical considerations into the restoration of megalithic sites in Ireland, and to carry out open-minded trans-disciplinary research and training in this new scientific field.

  8. Provide site access during excavation and reconstruction work to all interested parties through an efficient accreditation system for archaeologists, astronomers, anthropologists and bona fide amateur researchers, especially those who are most knowledgeable about the astronomical aspects of Irish megalithic sites, and take their advice into consideration when deciding research priorities, restoration work, site access and conservation strategies.

Ireland's unique and ancient megalithic heritage, thriving economy, and talented researchers now make this country ideally positioned to become the world leader in the field of astroarchaeology. Let's turn the problem into an opportunity and let in the light!

Please give this matter your immediate
attention.

Yours sincerely

– Michael O'Callaghan, the Hon. Desmond Guinness, the Hon. Garech a Brún, Fiachna O'Braonáin, Davie Philip, Martin Byrne, Victor Reijs, Terry Moseley, Anthony Murphy, Mark Reynolds, Gordon Campbell, Kim Kindersley, Winkie Corballis, Caroline Corballis, Napier Marten, Derrick Hambleton, David Levi Strauss, Barry Finnegan, Paul Assen, Seán OhAodha, Belinda Dyer, George Dyer, Richard Moore, Ann Murphy, Fiona O'Connor, Stephen McCann, Sean J. Murphy, Kathleen O'Hara, Tony L owes, Ailish Farragher, Charlotte Breen, Marina Greer, Alexis Mitchel, Aoife Gaffney, Clare Joy, Sandra Rothwell, Stuart Calvin, Sarah Price, Pol Breathnach, Ann Skelly, Catherine Murphy, Laura Evans, Maureen Dooley, Una Sheehan, Ulrike Born, Mel Healy, Niall Fahy, Barry McIntyre, Laragh Neelin, Emma Dowling, Dermot O'Hara, Sean Galligan, Donal O'Hare, Peter Sweetman, Maire-Ros O'Rahilly-Erickson, Connor Mallon, Robert Phillips, Dermot Lane, Denis Quinn, Petra Muths, Grainne Kelley, Dr. Barry Devlin, Kevin Kelly, Joseph Kenny, Mary Dunne, Irene Fadden, Jimmy Dowds, Pat Nally, George Nally, Paul Kenny, Noirin Clarke, Claire Richardson, Jim Dempsey, Martin O'Leary, Maireid Sullivan, Anne-Marie Ellison, Deirdre ni Uallachain, Richard Hamilton, Gill Hall, Andrew Dunn, Paul Griffin, Michael Quinlan, Tim Cronin, Yvonne Cronin, John Canny, Con Connor, Bill Sheeran, Galen English, Mark Fortune, Annabelle Fortune, Manus McManus, Ricardo Cafolla, Breandan OhAodha, Robert Mac Nicholas, Thomas Jaeger, Jane Hackett, Robert McElroy, Dermot Costello, Paul B. Coyle, Kitty Coyle, Mairead Glennon, Anna O'Malley Dunlop, Harris Moore, Rosie Moore, Mairead McEntee, Katy Cherry, Anne Dorley, Larry O'Sullivan, Michael O'Connor, Nicholas Caffrey, Elaine Fanning, Debbie Hunt, Frederick Schell, Conor McGrady, Susan Birthistle, Eamon McCarthy, Mark O'Sullivan, Louise Rossney, Justin Donnelly, Brendan Coburn, Tim McCullagh, Jung-Kyu Lee, Catherine Higgins, Karl Bergin, Derek Ryan, Robert Dowling, John McManus, Eugene Molloy, Thomas Earnor, Joe Cronin, Austin Rock, John Herriott, Johanna Shaeffer, Peter Dunn, Emma Fitzimons, Rowan McLaughlin, Mark Ryan, Christine Earley, Tamara Crehan, Colm Brady, Danny Forde, Anthony McGuinness, Gary Carney, Shirley Kennedy, Mairead McSorley, Eamon Leonard, Kathy A. 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