|26 August 2007
US expert says Lismullen must be preserved
Newly discovered 2000-year-old site at Lismullen, near Tara (Ireland), must be fully preserved because of their unique size and character, a US academic said. State archaeologists began excavation work on the prehistoric Lismullen structure earlier this month, claiming it was under threat from adverse weather. Dr Ronald Hicks of Ball State University, Indiana, argues it is part of a larger ancient ritual complex. He contends Lismullen is comparable to ceremonial enclosures found at Tara and other royal sites in Ireland, but is twice as large as any other. Dr Hicks states that rather than being a delicate wooden 'henge', the site sits in a natural hollow to form an ancient amphitheater. That structure is very much intact, and could and should be preserved in situ.
According to the study, The new report contradicts many NRA findings and is also being sent to the European Commission, who are currently examining whether the legal basis of the order to demolish the site is in breach of EU law, as well as the World Monuments Fund, who are monitoring the situation now that Tara is on their 100 Most Endangered Sites List for 2008.
Controversy has surrounded the Lismullen site since the ruins were uncovered by workers during construction work on the controversial M3 motorway last April. The National Monument at Lismullen consists of two circular enclosures, the largest 80m in diameter, and dates from somewhere between 1000 BCE and 400 CE. The site's discovery came just a day after the-then transport minister Martin Cullen turned the sod on the €850 million road project. The discovery was granted National Monument status, and all works were halted at the site. Former environment minister Dick Roche signed an order of preservation by record, meaning the prehistoric henge would be photographed, sketched and measured before being levelled to make way for the motorway.
In the meantime, An Bord Pleanála has cleared the way for archaeological work to commence at Lismullen. The decision means that the site, which is close to the Hill of Tara, will be examined by archaeologists before the road is constructed on top of it. In its decision, An Bord Pleanála gave the NRA the green light because the plan did not constitute a material alteration to the M3 scheme which it had already approved. An Bord Pleanála had been the last hurdle to be overcome for the controversial proposal. And the decision will come as a big relief to both the NRA and Meath County Council. However, the news will be a big disappointment to protestors who hoped the Bord might have demanded a new environmental impact assessment.
Sources: The Irish Times, Indymedia Ireland, TaraWatch (21 August 2007), RTE News (22 August 2007)
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