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Cromlech at Kiltiernan, by William Beranger (detail)

 


POLICY RECOMMENDATIONS FOR IRISH ARCHAEOLOGY :

(See also statement of purpose)



A.   GENERAL

  1. Peer review: The current policies of relevant existing bodies should be subject to peer review by all stakeholders. Steps should be taken to facilitate creative input by all interested parties before any further national and local policy decisions, strategies, and reconstruction plans are made, and to take the advice of these parties into consideration when deciding current and future policies and priorities for research, restoration, and conservation.

  2. Transparency: Create a new information exchange model in consultation with existing organisations, so as to establish a transparent environment for research, policy and planning. Require archaeologists and other researchers to make their archaeological findings, reports and policies publicly available in a timely fashion for the benefit of professional and amateur researchers. Publish all records pertaining to ancient sites on a free and publicly accessible World Wide Web site which should be competently set up, cross-indexed and regularly updated for this purpose; this website should include all relevant maps, surveys, topographical records, excavation reports, and photographs (including all those made before existing reconstruction), so that interested parties can evaluate any changes affecting the astronomical alignments and functions of the monuments that may have been made in recent centuries, and especially since the Second World War).

  3. Site access: Determine access policies and implement them together with existing organisations. This should include the setting up of an efficient accreditation system to facilitate and provide site access during investigation (including excavation) and reconstruction work to all interested parties including archaeologists, astronomers, anthropologists and bona fide amateur and/or independent researchers, especially those who are knowledgeable about the astronomical aspects and local folklore of Irish megalithic sites.

  4. Investigation, excavation, renovation, reconstruction and conservation: Use non-invasive research techniques whenever possible; reconstruct sites only when really necessary; re-use original structural designs and building materials wherever possible; don't make drastic changes to a sites' appearance for the sake of attracting tourist revenues; never change the original alignments or positions of passages and important or decorated stones; and always make use of resource efficient, environmentally sustainable and aesthetically appropriate materials and equipment.

  5. Protection: Protect megalithic sites from further damage by agriculture and/or development by setting up a system of laws, codes of conduct, incentives, acknowledgement, assistance and/or funding by Dúchas (or other Government bodies) for landowners and farmers who fence off sites or agree not to plough them over, and for developers who agree not to build too close to them.

  6. Tourist information: Acknowledge the astronomical design of megalithic sites wherever this is known or there are reasonable grounds to suspect it, and remind visitors that the sites were considered sacred by the people who built them and should to be respected accordingly.


B.   BOYNE VALLEY UNESCO WORLD HERITAGE SITE

  1. Remove the concrete slab which now blocks the Eastern entrance of the great cairn at Knowth, and thus let the sun illuminate the Eastern passage of the mound at sunrise around the Spring equinox.

  2. Do not obstruct possible key astronomical alignments at major sites by planting trees and hedges or building walls or houses in the wrong places, and prune (or if really necessary, remove) items like the tree planted by Dúchas which prevents the sunlight from entering the South Western passage at Dowth at Winter Solstice sunset, and the row of trees which blocks the Northern line of sight from Dowth to Cairn T.

  3. Stop bringing 300 visitors per day inside the great cairn at Newgrange, where the passage orthostats are becoming increasingly worn and polished from constant brushing by visitors' clothes. Make more use of the replica of the passage already built by Dúchas in the nearby visitor centre.

  4. Create replicas of the East and West passages of the main cairn at Knowth. Don't load tourists into the bunker which has been installed inside this mound, since it provides no access to the passages and only contains a replica of the monument cross section, which can easily be displayed elsewhere.

  5. Ensure future archaeological work is non-invasive whenever possible, and discourage digging as a means of investigating the monuments where alternative methods such as multi-frequency electromagnetic profiling, ground-penetrating radar, caesium vapour magnetometry, and other subterranean sensing technology can yield satisfactory results.

  6. Carry out a systematic survey of the entire Boyne valley watershed so as to identify any sites which may be unclassified in official records and maps.

  7. Protect sites from agricultural damage as proposed in section A6 above, with a suitable reimbursement scheme for landowners and farmers who argree not to plough them over. An estimated 5.5% of sites in County Meath are now said to be destroyed every year, and many of the smaller 52 or more known sites in the Brú na Bóinne complex may be in the process of being damaged or destroyed, like the earthen henge rings at sites P and A (South and South-East of Newgrange) which have been largely ploughed away, while the nearby site U is now just a pile of rocks.

  8. Limit the spread of urban development, particularly in nearby Drogheda, where the westward spread of housing and industry is edging closer to the Brú na Bóinne area every year.


 

Please email your comments to Michael O'Callaghan at moc@global-vision.org or contact him at this address.

 

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The URL of this page is: www.astroarchaeology/policy.html
Updated 22 April 2001
For more information contact Michael O'Callaghan at moc@global-vision.org

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