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27 March 2001
Suspended reconstruction of an Irish megalithic tomb

A Dúchas spokesman confirmed that due to concerns raised, the reconstruction of a megalithic tomb at Carrowmore, Co Sligo (Ireland), had been suspended "pending an archaeological review of the operation".
      Carrowmore is a megalithic cemetery of 60 passage tombs and is between Sligo town and Knocknarea mountain, which has Maedbh's Grave at its summit. It is one of the most important archaeological sites in the State and the area has the largest concentration of megalithic tombs in these islands.
      Late last year Dúchas started work to reconstruct the main cairn at Carrowmore, although it can never be known how precisely it originally looked.
      Dr Stephan Bergh, a Swedish archaeologist who completed his doctoral thesis on Carrowmore, visited the site and said he was horrified at the way the ground had been dug up by the movement of machines. "I, as an archaeologist, would have to apply for about 10 licences to do tracks like that," Dr Bergh said. "If you decide to reconstruct a monument of this scale there should be a definite plan and archaeologists should be present to ensure no damage is done. Neither of these two things have been done in this case," Dr Bergh said.
      The rectangular chamber of the cairn is still intact but because of the way Dúchas has done the reconstruction it is now deep in a pit surrounded by gabions of stones similar to those used in embankments. "This chamber looked great from the ground and there was important art-work on the stones, but now people will not be able to see it from that view," the archaeologist said. Dúchas said because of heavy rainfall the machines had caused ruts along the route to the tomb. The sides of the tomb had been supported by stone gabions and this was "in accordance with standard practice".

Source: The Irish Times (15 February 2001)

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