Archaeological evidence of a national monument halts M3 work

Despite a long-running campaign to have it rerouted away from the Tara/Skryne valley and the associated and significant archaeology, work on the M3 motorway officially began on Monday, courtesy of Irish Transport Minister Martin Cullen. Today another government minister, Environment Minister Dick Roche, halted that work when a massive prehistoric site was discovered at Lismullin, beside the Hill of Tara. It’s described as “a substantial national monument” in the RTÉ report and, by the BBC, as “the size of several football fields and is a circular structure used possibly for ceremonies in ancient times.” Or, in TaraWatch’s view, a rare henge.
From the quoted statement from Environment Minister, Dick Roche

The archaeologists were excavating known adjacent sites under the directions issued by the Minister for the archaeological works on the motorway scheme.

In the course of these excavations, additional archaeological features were discovered on the edge of the area of the excavations and, as required by the Minister’s directions, the area being excavated was expanded. Two lines of stake holes (15 – 20 cm in diameter), have provided evidence for the existence in the expanded area in the past of a circular enclosure (80 m in diameter) with a smaller inner central enclosure (16 m in diameter). Two further rows of stake holes show evidence of an entrance and passageway from the outer enclosure to the inner enclosure. The monument has been heavily truncated by ploughing in the past and the surviving features are shallow and fragile.

The report received by the Minister was made to him under the relevant provisions of the National Monuments Acts. These require that where a National Monument is discovered during the carrying out of a road development, the matter shall be reported to the Minister.

Pending any directions by the Minister, no works which would interfere with the Monument may be carried out, except works urgently required to secure its preservation, carried out in accordance with measures specified by the Minister. In this instance, the archaeological team was authorised to continue to clean back the surface of the area, to complete a plan of the features and to check for associated features outside the enclosure. A small number of the stakeholes are also to be excavated to try to recover sufficient material for radiocarbon dating.
No further excavation of the enclosure will take place pending the decision of the Minister on any directions to issue in relation to the monument.

btw if anyone at the BBC reads this.. you might want to check the links you’ve provided at this report.. that Tara-Skryne link is Not Safe For Work.

Adds It would appear someone at the BBC does read Slugger..