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6 July 2007
Bulldozers razed ancient Irish site near Tara

An ancient burial ground near the Hill of Tara (Ireland) - said to be more impressive than the national monument discovered in recent months - has been destroyed. Bulldozers razed the Baronstown site to allow construction work on the controversial M3 motorway in Co Meath continue. Protesters claimed that the site, a Bronze Age settlement described as a 'multi-period archaeological complex' by archaeologist Joe Fenwick, was destroyed overnight after machinery moved in. They claim earth movers stripped the site at about 4am on Wednesday 4th July. When protesters arrived at 6am the entire site had been completely razed to the ground.
     The complex dates back 4,000 years and the Campaign to Save Tara group claimed it had been recommended for national monument status by archaeologists working on the M3 project. But former environment minister Dick Roche rejected the application. "That they are destroying our heritage under cover of darkness says it all," campaigner Dr Muireann Ni Bhrolchain said, and repeated a call for construction work to be stopped at Tara until an archaeological committee set up by Environment Minister John Gormley completed its work. The committee is chaired by Conor Newman, an archaeology professor at NUI Galway, and is charged with excavating the newly found National Monument at Lismullen, a few miles from the Baronstown site, prior to it being removed to allow the road to go ahead.
     Protesters want the minister to declare the entire Tara Skryne Valley an archaeological conservation area, and re-route the motorway. Michael Canny said the work on the Baronstown site was a disgrace. "If he had taken our advice perhaps another piece of our irreplaceable national heritage would not have been bulldozed." Protesters also claimed daily stand-offs with construction workers at several sites along the route were becoming increasingly tense. In recent weeks, one protester was arrested, but later released.

Sources: Campaign to Save Tara press release (4 July 2007), Independent (6 July 2007)

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