Grave Robbing in Donegal
The story of the human remains recently discovered, and subsequently ‘dissappeared’ in Donegal, which we tweeted about the other day (http://twitter.com/mooregroup) has taken a bizarre twist. Yesterday they were handed back by an anonymous “amateur archaeologist“. The story broke on Wednesday last (see here – http://www.rte.ie/news/2010/0428/donegal.html). In brief – in the process of delivering sand from a quarry in Gweedore to a GAA training pitch in Ballintra human skeletal remains including a skull were discovered. This was reported to Caroline Carr of the County Museum who investigated and called in the National Museum to recover and rescue the remains. However, by the time the Museum arrived, someone had removed the remains.
After a media appeal issued by Donegal Museum, the remains were returned by the anonymous so-called ‘amateur archaeologist’ who “was worried they would be damaged and he removed them for safe-keeping”. Equally worrying, according to the Irish Star yesterday, he also returned a number of artefacts which he had collected from the area over a period of years.
Caroline Carr said that ‘the actions of the anonymous person, however well-meaning, had destroyed an archaeological site’. At least he had the decency to return them… but I think Caroline is being very polite in leaving it at that in her commentary – the most worrying aspect of the story is the fact that this individual destroyed an archaeological site. The fact that other artefacts recovered over a period of years were also returned gives lie to the ‘well meaning’ removal of the human remains. The unknown individual removed the remains without consideration of their context and in the process may have ruined any chance of establishing their provenance.