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BRU NA BOINNE MANAGEMENT PLAN

Launched 9 December 2002.


Irish Minister for Education and Science, Mr. Noel Dempsey, T.D., launched the Management Plan for Brú na Bóinne World Heritage Site at the Visitor Centre there on 9 December 2002.

The 76 page document includes a Foreword by Martin Cullen, T.D., Minister for the Environment and Local Government, under whose authority Dúchas now rests since its recent transfer from the Ministry for Arts, Culture, Gaeltacht and the Islands. Mr. Cullen writes:

"This Plan, which has a five-year lifespan, sets out to address the many complex issues that invevitably arise at a site of the importance of Brú na Bóinne. It provides comprehensive information on various aspects of Brú na Bóinne from its management history, its wide and varied resources through to visitor management policies. Drawing on this wide information base, the Plan proposes a total of 29 actions under the five broad headings of protection, conservation, presentation, research and general management. While many of the key objectives reflect what is happening on the ground today, there are a number of new measures being proposed particularly in the area of research.

The initial draft of this Plan was developed by a multi-disciplinary team drawn from my Department's archaeologists, conservation architects, administrators and guide service. However, conscious that Brú na Bóinne, as well as being an important archaeological site, is a living landscape, my Department also engaged in an extensive public consultation process. This process directly influenced the shape of final draft of the Plan and I would like to take this opportunity to thank all who took the time to make their views known."

Unfortunately, it seems that once again Dúchas failed to include any astronomers in its multi-disciplinary team, for the Plan omits any reference to the astronomical design which we believe is one of the most important features of the various monuments at this UNESCO World Heritage Site.

This omission is despite Michael O'Callaghan's submission of 30 pages of comments on the Draft Management Plan, sent to Dúchas on 15 March 2002.

On a positive note, however, we are pleased to report that Section 6.2.4 of the Plan, which addresses issues of public access and visitor management, makes provision for one of the changes requested in Michael O'Callaghan's comments on the draft version:

"Archaeo-astronomy

Since the introduction of a visitor centre at Brú na Bóinne, efforts have been made to facilitate any reasonable request with regard to research at the various monuments. This is particularly the case in relation archaeo-astronomy, with access being granted outside normal opening hours."

Section 7.4 of the Plan, which addresses the issue of research, states that:

"Dúchas will encourage a programme of third-level research focused on areas of investigation specified by them through the provision of bursaries to improve and understanding and interpretation of the area."

We hope that Dúchas will agree to support our Institute of Astroarchaeology's proposed research programmes, particularly in regard to the astronomical design of Irish megalithic sites.


THE BOYNE VALLEY ENVISIONED

Lecture by archaeologist
Dr. Geraldine Stout
9 December 2002

Exhibition of paintings by Richard Moore
10 - 20 December 2002

OPW Atrium
51 St. Stephen's Green
Dublin


[Adapted from a posting by Anthony Murphy on the Mythical Ireland website at www.mythicalireland.com]

The Boyne Valley Envisioned, held at the Atrium of the Office of Public Works at 51 St Stephen's Green, Dublin on 9 December 2002, featured an illustrated lecture by Irish archaeologist Dr. Geraldine Stout, followed by the launch of an exhibition of paintings by Richard Moore. The audience included Nobel Laureate Seamus Heaney, Professor and author Gabriel Cooney (UCD Department of Archaeology), Professor Tom Ray (Department of Cosmic Physics at the Dublin Institute of Advanced Studies), Irish Stones member Anthony Murphy and the Ancient Irish Monuments Appeal organiser Michael O'Callaghan.

Dr. Stout led an archaeological team which discovered part of a gold brooch at a ringfort site near Knowth earlier this year. Her lecture focussed on the Boyne Valley's archaeological landscape, and how it has inspired artists such as Nano Reid, Louis le Brocquay, 18th century landscape painters and contemporary local artists. She said the "cold war" between art and archaeology was coming to an end and that archaeologists were opening up to the idea of collaborating with artists and writers in a quest for a broader knowledge of the ancient landscape and people. Her new book "Newgrange and the Bend of the Boyne", which is the latest in the 'Atlas of the Irish Landscape' series, is published by Cork University Press.

Richard Moore's paintings will be displayed at the OPW Atrium from December 10 to 20. Very much focused on the Boyne Valley megalithic sites, his work is inspired by the study of the area and how legends and ancient sites relate to astronomical events and constellations. Richard's previous exhibition, at the Brú na Bóinne Visitors Centre at Donore, was also very strongly focused on this astronomical and mythological theme. He has been painting in the Boyne Valley for over twenty years, and has had significant involvement in the development of the Mythical Ireland website.

'The Boyne Valley Envisioned' was supported by the OPW and Dúchas (Dept. of Environment).


DUCHAS NOW A DEPARTMENT OF THE MINISTRY FOR ENVIRONMENT AND LOCAL GOVERNMENT


Dúchas / The Heritage Service, which has responsibility for the conservation of our megalithic heritage, has recently been transferred from the Ministry for Arts, Heritage, Gaeltacht and the Islands to the Ministry for Environment and Local Government.


HUGE TEMPLE FOUND UNDER HILL OF TARA

11 November 2002.

According to RTE News:

Monuments unearthed in County Meath: Archaeologists have unearthed scores of new monuments at one of Ireland's most ancient religious and archaeological sites in County Meath. Some of the discoveries at the Hill of Tara near Navan date back to 4000 BC. One of the most spectacular finds has been a huge oval enclosure the same size as Dublin's Croke Park stadium. It is thought to have been constructed in about 2500 BC. The monuments were uncovered by experts from NUI, Galway who were working on the most extensive and ambitious geophysical survey ever undertaken in Ireland. Before the survey began, around 30 monuments had been located. That figure has now been trebled. Tara was once the most powerful of Ireland's five kingdoms, and tribal disputes as well as peace and defence issues were once settled there at national assemblies held every three years. Its importance diminished as Christianity became established in Ireland and little now remains to indicate the area's one-time eminence.


By Evelyn Ring in the Irish Examiner, 12 November 2002.

A huge temple, once surrounded by about 300 huge posts made from an entire oak forest, has been discovered directly beneath the Hill of Tara in Co Meath. Conor Newman, an archaeology lecturer at NUI Galway, said the discovery at the ancient site made sense of the positioning of other graves and monuments in the area.

Mr Newman, who has been working on the Hill of Tara under the State-funded Discovery Programme since 1992, was delighted by the find. "It fills a very important place in the jigsaw because it allows us to make sense of the distribution of other monuments all around it."

The Discovery Programme, set up under the auspices of the Heritage Council, carried out a survey of the Hill of Tara between 1992 and 1996 when Mr Newman was director.

When Mr Newman moved to Galway he continued to be involved in the project Using sophisticated technology, he and his team of experts mapped what was underground. The work was slow and tedious because it yielded such a huge amount of information.

What they uncovered eventually at the crown of the hill was a huge, oval-shaped monument measuring about 170 metres at its widest point. Around it are 300 post holes measuring two metres wide, indicating a massive human effort involved in the construction.

"We think it probably dates from 2500 to 2300BC and still had a big physical presence even after the posts were taken out or rotted," Mr Newman said.

While the monument is located just below the ground's surface, there are no plans yet to dig it out.

"There was a time when excavation was the first step in archaeological research. That's not the case now because it really is the systematic destruction of a monument. When you are dealing with something as important as the Hill of Tara, you don't do something like that lightly."

Mr Newman reckons they will be able to learn more about the site from the data before the ground itself is finally excavated. "What we have is the clearest underground image I have ever seen. This one jumps off the page."

Mr Newman is concerned about a planned extension of the N3 motorway from Clonee to just north of Kells. One of the sections from Dunshaughlin to Navan runs along the east side of the Hill of Tara.

I have absolutely no doubt that they will be destroying dozens of monuments connected to Tara.


CARROWMORE APPEAL

Appeal to An Bord Pleanála to refuse plannning permision granted by Sligo County Council for Dúchas to install septic tank in 7,500 year old megalithic complex at Carrowmore, Co. Sligo.

Click here for appeal text


12 August 2002.

The Carrowmore National Monument megalithic complex in County Sligo, Ireland, is the subject of a formal Appeal to prevent it being damaged again by the Department of Arts Heritage, Gaeltacht and the Islands / Dúchas - The Heritage Service.

The Carrowmore complex is part of an extensive megalithic landscape situated close to Sligo town on the Cúil Irra peninsula between Carns Hill and Queen Maeve's cairn on the summit of Knocknarea – celebrated in poetry by W.B. Yeats. Located in a spectacular setting overlooking Sligo Harbour and Ballisodare Bay, the complex is the largest cluster of megalithic sites in Ireland. It forms a 1km long x 600m wide oval-shaped cluster of megalithic monuments originally featuring approximately 60 sites (including chambered cairns, passage mounds, dolmens, standing stones, and stone circles). It is considered to be the largest concentration of such monuments in the world, one of the very earliest habitation and burial sites in Ireland, and one of the most important archaeological sites in the State.

On 11 July 2002, Sligo County Council gave a formal Notice of intent to grant planning permision for Dúchas to construct a sewerage treatment centre, a 30m x 15m percolation area and two extensions to the existing Visitors Centre – all within the core area of the Carrowmore complex.

University of Galway Archaeologist Dr. Stefan Bergh (whose doctoral thesis on Carrowmore involved extensive surveys, morphological studies, and contextual spatial & landscape analyses of the area) said:

"Any kind of development within the defined space that constitutes the ritual landscape of Carrowmore, is highly unsatisfactory... From an archaeological point of view the best long-term solution for the Visitors Centre would be to relocate it to the existing quarry located c. 150 west of the present Visitors Centre. This is a far less sensitive location which does not intrude to the same extent on the landscape of Carrowmore, and would make future needs for expansion possible as no archaeological features would be affected within the already quarried area."

The appeal was drafted by Michael O'Callaghan and Victor Reijs with input from Peter Sweetman, David Philip, and Roderic O'Connor, and made by Peter Sweetman & Associates on behalf of Michael Collins, Philip David, Declan Foley, Catherine Lowther, Petra Muths, Michael O'Callaghan, Roderic O'Connor, Searles O'Dubhain, and Victor Reijs.


STONES AND BONES

Formal disposal of the dead in Atlantic Europe during the Mesolithic - Neolithic interface
6000 - 3000 BC

Archaeological Conference
in honour of the late
Professor Michael J. O'Kelly
Sligo, Ireland
May 1 - 5, 2002

This conference – organised by Gotland University College (Visby, Sweden) – is being convened by Professor Göran Burenhult to mark the occasion of the completion of the second campaign of the Swedish Archaeological Excavations at Carrowmore, Co. Sligo, a quarter of a century after Professor Michael J. O'Kelly suggested the start of the investigation of this site.

The conference aims to present and consider the evidence we have today of the emergence and subsequent development of formal burials and megalithic structures in Atlantic Europe 6000 - 3000 BC, and their relation to the introduction of agriculture and domestication in various regions. The osteological evidence for the disposal of the dead, revealing sophisticated and complex manipulation of the bones, will be a central issue for the conference. The appearance of bones from domesticated animals in early ritual contexts forms another important topic. The same could apply to the early cultivation of cereals. Recent decades have produced much new information from burial grounds and megalithic sites, as well as from settlements, much of it yet unpublished. The conference organising commitee hopes that scholars active in the field will present and discuss these new data.

The conference will be held at the Hawkswell Theatre in Sligo, May 1-5, 2002, and will consist of one program of lectures involving all participants. There will be no conference fee. Accommodation will be available, and also a full-day excursion to megalithic sites in Co. Sligo on Sunday, May 5. For details and registration, please visit the conference website at http://stonesandbones.hgo.se.


BRÚ NA BOINNE DRAFT MANAGEMENT PLAN

21 January 2002

Ireland's Government Department for Arts, Heritage, Gaeltacht and the Islands requests comments on the Brú na Boinne Draft Management Plan which it has recently published. This plan aims to "provides comprehensive information on all the various aspects of Brú na Boinne from its management history, its wide and varies resources through to visitor management policies. Drawing on this wide information base a number of key actions are proposed under the headings of protection, conservation, presentation and research." You are invited to read the document and write to the Government with your comments, which will be accepted until the deadline at 5pm Friday 15 March 2002.

However, the section on Knowth conveniently fails to mention the concrete slab which now blocks the Eastern passage of the main passage mound, and fails to mention the need for research on the astronomical alignments of the megalithic monuments. Please write to the Depatment requesting them to remove the concrete slab and follow the recommendations made in our Ancient Monuments of Ireland Appeal at www.astroarchaeology.org/context/appeal.html, which has been signed by almost 850 people from 23 countries as of 21 January 2002.

You can order your copy by sending an email request to nmapd@ealga.ie or by contacting Ms. Marie O'Gallagher, Dúchas the Heritage Service, Department of Arts, Heritage, Gaeltacht and the Islands, Dun Sleine, Harcourt Lane, Dublin 2 - tel: (01) 411 7113.


MAGNETIC ANOMALIES

13 October 2001

Bob Oldham (boldham@smv.org) at the Science Museum of Virginia (USA), sent us an email saying: "I noticed your statement that 'The accurate measurement of azimuths requires the use of a (gyro)-theodolite or GPS, because local magnetic anomalies associated with some of the monuments make compass bearings inaccurate (e.g. azimuth measurements taken by compass inside the passages at Knowth have been found to be off by 14 degrees.)' I have been working on a similar problem in Portugal, and I developed a simple method using a conventional surveyor's transit (I purchased one used for $60). The method uses calculated Solar azimuths available from the USNO website to derive true North, and is accurate to about 10 minutes of arc with care. If one has access to a simple transit (I think even a Brunton-style pocket transit would yield 1 degree accuracy) this method works well for such alignment studies. It can also be carried out by one person working alone. I would be glad to share the details if you're interested in using this method in the field."

Bob also writes: "I am studying the alignments of a large cluster of dolmens in Portugal, most of which apparently are aligned to very nearly the same azimuth of 106 degrees, which does not correspond to solstice, equinox, or cross-quarter-day sunrises. It does, however, correspond to prominent star grouping rising azimuths, and it is this association that interests me. I will be returning to Portugal in November to spend 2 weeks measuring azimuths using the solar azimuth method I devised. I hope to obtain data on as many as 40 sites."


SUMMER SOLSTICE INDIGENOUS PEOPLE'S GATHERING AT UISNEACH
21 JUNE 2001

Dublin, Ireland, 4 May 2001

Traditional wisdomkeepers and other representatives of the Lakota, Dakota, Cree, Hopi, and Inuit Indigenous Peoples of North America gathered in Ireland to honour the island's ancient sacred megalithic sites at the Hill of Uisneach on the Summer Solstice, 21 June 2001. The gathering was the sixth World Peace and Prayer Day inspired by Chief Arvol Looking Horse, the spiritual leader of the Lakota, Dakota and Nakota people, a.k.a the Great Sioux Nation. Focusing on the theme of peace and reconciliation, this historic gathering included performances of Indigenous Peoples' sacred ceremonies, music and dance reflecting the common vision of Indigenous spiritual traditions which recognise Humankind's interdependence with nature and our responsibility to take care of the Earth for future generations. Liam O'Maonlai performed some séan-nos songs and played on the tin whistle, and Donovan sang a beautiful balad.

Chief Arvol Looking Horse is the 19th generation keeper of the Sacred White Buffalo Calf Pipe handed down through his lineage for the past 15 to 20 centuries. "Our prophecies tell us we are at a crossroads" he said, "we are faced with chaos, disaster and tears from the eyes of our relatives' [i.e. fellow-creatures], or we can unite spiritually in peace and harmony. It is time to bring the message of the need for peace throughout the world." When the White Buffalo Calf Woman brought the Sacred Pipe she foretold of a time when her spirit would return to the Earth in the form of a white buffalo, signifying a crossroads. The first white buffalo was born in the US in 1994.

Chief Looking Horse pointed out the traditional respect for nature common to Indigenous and Celtic peoples, and called for people in Ireland and other countries to celebrate the annual Summer Solstice by visiting sacred sites in their local area, and to hold ceremonies there to honour our connection to the Earth and the need for world peace and reconciliation.

The World Peace and Prayer Day website is at www.worldpeaceday.com/2001.


THE PAST, PRESENT AND FUTURE OF MEGALITHIC IRELAND

April 22, 2001

Global Vision Director Michael O'Callaghan made a short presentation about the Institute at The Past, Present and Future of Megalithic Ireland workshop, at the Design Yard Gallery, on April 22. The event was organised by Martin Byrne,.Anthony Murphy and Gillies McBain. We invite the support of Irish archaeologists and astronomers who would like to help us set up the Institute. Michael O'Callaghan is currently in Ireland, and can be reached on his mobile phone on + 44 77 1516 9710.


WEBSITE LAUNCH ON
EARTH DAY 2001

April 22, 2001

This website was launched on April 22, Earth Day 2001 as part of the Convergence '01 festival, which ran from April 21 - 28 2001 in Dublin, Ireland. The festival is a celebration of clean, healthy and sustainable living, organised by Sustainable Ireland. The website was created by Global Vision Corporation, a Non Governmental Organisation accredited to the United Nations Commission on Sustainable Development.

 
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The URL of this page is: www.astroarchaeology.org/news.html
Updated 10 December 2002
For more information contact Michael O'Callaghan at moc@global-vision.org

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