|12 April 2004
International campaign to save the Hill of Tara
International voices have joined in opposition to the campaign to save the Hill of Tara from being bissected by the M3 motorway planned for Co Meath. The Archaeological Institute of America said the medieval site has been used since 4000 BCE for burials. Once the seat of the Irish Kings, campaigners say the entire area is being put at risk for the sake of a road.
A statement from the Archaeological Institute of America (AIA), which has 8,000 members, said: "The Hill of Tara is one of the most important archaeological sites in Ireland. It stands in the midst of a larger landscape containing a wealth of related sites and monuments. Now, Tara and the surrounding landscape are threatened by a proposed major Highway that will cut through the highway and divorce Tara from the related sites that surround it”.
It follows the publication of AIA President, Jane C. Waldbaum’s letter in the Irish Times. A similar letter signed by a number of prominent British archaeologists was published by the Irish Times on April 5th. Opponents of the project point to earlier studies of the area, which led Ireland's Heritage Service to expand a protected zone around Tara to six kilometers (3.73 miles) in 1999. The proposed roadway, they say, would cut through the protected zone, and in a nine-mile stretch would run through 26 sites identified as archaeologically significant in a geophysical survey. Not only would these sites have to be fully excavated, but construction would likely reveal yet more sites.
Letters addressed to the editor of the Irish Times have been a forum for those who object to the project. One group of scholars, primarily Irish historians, wrote, "Let us be clear: excavation is destruction, not 'preservation' in the true sense...let Irish taxpayers decide for themselves if their money should be spent destroying this singular element of Irish identity."
Mr Vincent Salafia, a spokesperson for Save Tara / Skryne Valley Group said: "A solicitors' letter, sent to Meath County Council and the National Roads Authority on 19 March put them on notice that the motorway works appear to be illegal. This promted a meeting with them on 5th April, so the timing of this kind of international support has been magnificent. "I don't think the message could be any clearer. They cannot ignore this kind of pressure. Dr. Muireann Ni Bhrolchain, a Celtic scholar at NUI Maynooth said: "Basically these worldwide experts are supporting the Irish experts, who are telling the authorities that that they are about to make one of the biggest mistakes this country has ever made.
Sources: BreakingNews.ie, Politics.ie (10 April 2004)
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