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Tara Again

October 27, 2007

Over the past weeks both Conor Newman and Professor John Waddell of NUIG have been vocally critical of the use of the term ‘preservation by record’ in reference to excavation. Moore Group concurs – the term is mere spin – Archaeology is by its very nature destructive and any data not recovered in the process of excavation are lost forever. It’s inevitable that information will be lost. In the course of our work, we vow to use the term ‘excavation’ or ‘removal’ in future.

On the subject of spin (and regardless of our support or otherwise of Tara Watch), we note that in their (Tara Watch’s) most recent press release published in Village Magazine the organisation continues to describe the excavation of Lismullin as ‘demolition’. Demolition means the tearing-down of buildings and other structures. To describe the excavation at Lismullin as demolition is misleading to say the least and like ‘preservation by record’ is a term which should be binned.

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13 Comments leave one →
  1. dublinstreams permalink
    October 29, 2007 4:43 am

    well by the time people had found out about lismullin it had been totally eh undermined… exposed (what’s the word im looking for?) by stripping all the top soil off it. when the word demolition was used the archeology had been done, so everyone was telling us, thus at some point a bulldozer is just going to come along and scrap or dump soil and hardcore onto it in preparation for the road, is this not demolition of lismullin?

    is this the article ?
    http://tarawatch.org/?p=514

    oh another

    Labour MEP Proinsias de Rossa said he had been informed by the commission that the National Monuments Act was in breach of EU law. He said it was under this Act that the Department of the Environment had sanctioned the demolition of an archaeological site at Lismullin.
    http://tarawatch.org/?p=528

    the site isn’t going to be excavated and then excavated and… excavated its going to be demolished for the road. why else would you be ‘excavating’ or ‘removing’ it all?

    Legal Protection of Archaeological Sites
    Protection of archaeology is facilitated under the revised European Union Convention on the Protection of Archaeological Heritage (1992).

    “As part of that framework, the convention adopted the principle of preservation of sites in situ, regarding excavation as a ‘last resort’ or ‘ultimate step’ in the search for archaeological information.”

    you were going to destroy that site no matter what you found, that’s how you worked it from day one incontravention of this law

    This introduced a number of significant requirements for archaeologists and developers, including the preservation, in situ, of archaeological sites where feasible, and the concept that the costs of archaeological mitigation required during development must be borne by the developer.
    In response to large-scale developments, the European Union and the Irish Government have introduced new legislation designed to protect, maintain and increase the archaeological record. The European Union is committed to the protection of archaeological heritage. The revised European Convention on the Protection of the Archaeological Heritage (The Valletta Convention) which Ireland ratified in 1997, notes that ‘the European archaeological heritage … is seriously threatened with deterioration because of the increasing number of major planning schemes, natural risks, clandestine or unscientific excavations and insufficient public awareness’ (Council of Europe 1992). While the previous convention on archaeological protection had been concerned primarily with ‘clandestine excavation’, the revised convention acknowledges the major threat to archaeological heritage as coming from large-scale construction projects including forestation (Council of Europe 1993). The convention provides a framework for addressing these threats and for protecting, managing and promoting archaeological heritage within European Member States. As part of that framework, the convention adopted the principle of preservation of sites in situ, regarding excavation as a ‘last resort’ or ‘ultimate step’ in the search for archaeological information. Parties to the convention are required to involve archaeologists in the planning process of all development schemes, to ensure consultation between archaeologists and planners, and to ensure conservation of archaeological sites found during development in situ when feasible (Council of Europe 1992, Article 5). Effectively, it adopted an archaeological policy whereby recording of sites and compiling of inventories is regarded as the minimum requirement for parties to the convention, and archaeological excavation is regarded as exceptional mitigation rather than the norm. A further principle adopted by the convention is that the burden of funding for archaeological requirements during a development scheme should be borne by the developers (ibid, Article 6a).
    The most fundamental aspect of the convention is the formal acknowledgement of archaeological heritage as a primary and non-renewable resource that must be conserved for future generations.

  2. October 29, 2007 1:26 pm

    We won’t get into an argument about the legality of the excavation of Lismullin here – that’s for a different forum – we’re simply arguing the semantics – ‘demolition’ implies that Lismullin comprised an upstanding structure and although most people will realise it was in fact sub-surface remains, some will read an article and leave with the impression that it was a large upstanding structure. That is not meant to underplay its significance in the context of the Irish archaeological resource in any way. The article we refer to is in the most recent Village (November 2007).

    Likewise ‘preservation by record’ implies that the site will be preserved in it’s entirety by record which is also misleading.

    Whether the selected route and the procedures followed were correct is argued at length on other fora and was argued throughout the legislative process which was carried out at the public hearing phase. As I said in a previous post, we don’t want to indulge in a protracted debate about the rights or wrongs of the route or the procedures adopted here.

    You say in your comment that ‘you were going to destroy that site no matter what you found, that’s how you worked it from day one in contravention of this law’. I’m not sure whether your comment is directed at Moore Group or the profession in general but I can assure you that we have nothing to do with the M3 (and if we did we, as we are sure the consultants on the job are doing, would carry out our job to the highest professional standards) and we certainly have had no part to play in working out the contravention of any law.

  3. November 1, 2007 11:22 pm

    well seeing you concerns are merely about whether a structure is above or below ground rather defending the indefensible then you would agree destroy is an appropriate word to use for what the NRA are doing?

    Seeing as Rath Lugh is mainly based on moulding ground does that mean the it is an upstanding structure below or above ground? Will it be partially demolished, destroyed or simply removed?

    its so nice we have such neutral viewpoint do you want to do some consultancy work? on Rath Lugh for the good of archaelogy?
    We want to submit a nomination for the Mound of Druids as separate protected monument.
    http://www.indymedia.ie/article/84738

    Or is as I guess are road building projects paying your mortgage too?

    here’s how the archaelogical arguments of the route selection were demolished http://www.nuigalway.ie/archaeology/Tara_Irish-Times_CN_June2005.html
    sorry ‘excavated’ or ‘removed’. You give the impression that the argument was fair.

    btw Im not assured that your profession which you are compelled to defend here has had no part to play in contravention of law.

  4. November 2, 2007 2:21 pm

    “well seeing you concerns are merely about whether a structure is above or below ground rather defending the indefensible then you would agree destroy is an appropriate word to use for what the NRA are doing?”

    Archaeology is indeed essentially a destructive process – and in the case of development led archaeology, where destruction of a site is inevitable, archaeologists attempt to make the best of it and record what is there to the best professional practice and standards. Yes, there may be better methods in the future which may mitigate the need to excavate in locations where it is possible to avoid archaeological remains (avoidance being the best possible resolution for everyone, including developers), but archaeologists can only work within the parameters of the planning system. Feel free to use the term ‘destroy’ if you want – I find the term a little hysterical and like ‘demolition’ it implies that archaeologists are vandals (or as you describe them in your blog – ‘grave-robbers’) The terms ‘excavation’ or ‘removal’ more correctly reflect the practice.

    “Seeing as Rath Lugh is mainly based on moulding ground does that mean the it is an upstanding structure below or above ground? Will it be partially demolished, destroyed or simply removed?”

    See above.

    “its so nice we have such neutral viewpoint do you want to do some consultancy work? on Rath Lugh for the good of archaelogy? We want to submit a nomination for the Mound of Druids as separate protected monument. http://www.indymedia.ie/article/84738

    Or is as I guess are road building projects paying your mortgage too?”

    Now, now, no need to be so sarcastic! We provide a service which is impartial and professional. If you want to forward a description of your requirements, we would be happy to provide an estimate for the work. I get the feeling, though, that you have a deep rooted disrespect for archaeologists and their work. We do not set out to destroy our cultural heritage. We do our best to record the archaeological resource before it is removed. We also carry out assessments pre-development as part of the EIS process and advise our clients in an impartial way how best to mitigate their impact on the archaeological resource. In many cases this involves recommending preservation of the archaeology in situ. And yes, we carry out work for the NRA. They are one of our clients. So what! We also carry out work for community groups, local authorities, the gas industry, the oil industry, property developers, single dwelling house builders and anyone else who requires our services. We are not beholden to anyone (and I rent, can’t afford a house just yet – Dec).

    As archaeologists, our basic subject matter is whatever people leave behind when they die, and, yes, archaeology’s biggest source of funding is when traces of earlier people are about to be erased by modern development. Ireland has strict legislation protecting this resource, legislation which is far more advanced and stricter than many other counties. The principle of avoidance is the primary principle which guides the profession. I should add that, as the institute of Archaeologists of Ireland stated recently, ‘though there is always room for improvement – as in any scientific discipline – Irish professional archaeologists, institutions, companies and researchers are recognized for their very high standards on an international level’. The current review by the Minister is a reflection of concerns with regards to elements of the legislation and hopefully will result in consolidation of the various laws, and ensure better protection for the archaeological resource.

    “here’s how the archaelogical arguments of the route selection were demolished http://www.nuigalway.ie/archaeology/Tara_Irish-Times_CN_June2005.html
    sorry ‘excavated’ or ‘removed’. You give the impression that the argument was fair.

    btw Im not assured that your profession which you are compelled to defend here has had no part to play in contravention of law.”

    You are obviously very passionate with regards to Tara and roads planning, and I fully respect that, but perhaps, instead of venting your hostility on archaeologists, you should focus on changing or influencing the procedure, the route selection process and the EIS process. At this stage regarding Tara the archaeologists are the last cog in the wheel – by the time they were appointed, the procedure had gone through all the various planning levels. The consultant archaeologists who carry out the EIS are responsible for presenting the existing environment, discussing the impacts and suggesting mitigation measures in an impartial manner. They do not decide on the route. The planning process is the point when you guys need to intervene, that’s the point in the process where your influence comes to bear, and where your opinions and submissions can influence the process. After all that is when the decisions are made. Like it or not, you have to work within the system, and if you are not happy with the system, then work to change it!

  5. November 6, 2007 2:47 pm

    You came to my attention by praising patronising articles with lines like ‘One point of view he alludes to is that the general public don’t quite grasp that Lismullen does not present an authentic heritage experience’

    Nobody was expecting it to be Disneyland, you can use words like impartial and strict all you want Ireland is the land of bank holiday bulldozing, flawed and corrupt planning, legislation changed to avoid public consultation and crafted to speed up ill-thought out infrastructure projects. You must have the most faith in planning laws of any Irish man in the country. An example of those strict laws where farmers get paltry fines for bulldozing promontory forts and and protected monuments aren’t actually protected until after there are immediately threatened or damaged like Rath Lugh. I gave you a link that showed that people, archaeologists even were involved in the planning process yet were actively ignored, Oh I sorry again mitigated.

    They will always be some archaeologist who will be willing to sign off that projects were carried out to high standard, not that I’ll believe them. You can hold Lismullin as example of public misunderstanding and professionalism I will know it is an example of preplanned destruction and connivance with the construction industry.

  6. November 6, 2007 4:26 pm

    Steve – I’m not the trusting innocent you describe, nor are Moore Group a bunch of conniving, corporate bullies trying to undermine and exploit the system. Many of the developers we deal with are just as concerned with their cultural and natural heritage as we are, and make the best efforts to avoid having an unsustainable impact. We are, obviously, fully aware of the limitations and problems with the existing planning system, and deal with the implications on a daily basis.

    But I’m not going to get into that here.

    We could keep going round in circles and that would be pointless, and a waste of your time and mine.

    Regards

    Declan

  7. EcoWarrior permalink
    November 23, 2007 12:51 pm

    Dec 2, Other dude 0.

    But that’s enough fighting. I think that this thread should now be demolished… no, excavated…. no, preserved by record….. aaaaagh!!!

  8. November 26, 2007 3:33 am

    so your neither nor ‘but I’m not going to get into that here’ (why not?)

    thats all your got to say for yourself, well well, aslong as you are not getting into it it means the developers and bad planners and politicians can continue to do what they like, and you can wash your hands of it pretend you not furthering their malpractices, while you demean my post by describing me as hysterical while you hide behind words like professional etc when not just me but the people who that wrote the book on the sites disagree with you maybe its you should think again.

  9. Notanecowarrior permalink
    November 26, 2007 2:02 pm

    I am not an ecowarrior and resent being thought of as such. Just so you all know.

    I also happen to think that in addition to the new motor way, County meath in it’s entirety should be turned into a giant car park. Its a horrible little place full of people with funny accents.

  10. November 26, 2007 6:40 pm

    Dear Steve

    Moore Groups blog is a business blog. We started the blog for a number of reasons. Firstly we felt that we have gathered a lot of information over the years which it would be impossible to share in any other manageable way, and could be put to good use through an online publishing channel. We want to provide an archaeological and environmental resource through both the blog and our website, a facility which would help people understand the processes involved. We also wanted to start an online conversation with our customers, stakeholders and the public.

    We, in this office, hold different points of views on different topics, we also have different types of expertise. The blog reflects our business. Unlike many business blogs which merely report on events and rehash newspaper stories, we are happy to comment on a variety of topics and engage in debate and open to diverse opinions. However, this argument is one that could go on and on and would be better served in a private or personal capacity. This is not the place for it. Thank you for your interesting points and for your interest, but at this point we do not want to continue the conversation. Feel free to revisit our sites and engage with us and do have a look around the rest of the blog and our website.

    Regards

    Declan

  11. December 14, 2007 2:03 am

    demolition is a polite way of saying it , i have been at lissmullen site and bare bones are strewn acrooss moterway mud desecrated without mercy, these bones of our ansestors could be royal noble or famous historical graves, all this educated archeology -moterway construction scam i s so closely linked to opus dai who are the ones that are really controling this farce, they even had the route moved from going through their templar graves to where the henge was, is the dept of envoiroment opus dai controlled as is department of transport they bought land on the route and get very rich because of it, all i can say beware the ides of marche,

  12. December 14, 2007 2:01 pm

    Yeah, that’d it be it alright.

  13. EcoWarrior permalink
    December 21, 2007 3:54 pm

    Astounding…. just totally astounding…..

    Don’t they have spell-check on Planet Crackpot?

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