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Stop Wasting Public Money on Wanton Destruction of the Tara-Skryne Valley

category meath | history and heritage | feature author Monday July 18, 2005 01:25author by redjade Report this post to the editors

'The Minister of Environment has shown that he is no such thing. We have no Minister for Heritage.'

Hill of Tara (top) clearly visible from M3 construction site in the the Tara-Skryne Valley
More Tara News:
*Co Meath Sinn Féin County Cllr. Joe Reilly (SF) On The M3 Interchange / Debate On Campaign Tactics
*Indymedia Tara Archive
*Upcoming Tara Related Protests
Muireann Ní Bhrolcháin, PRO of Save the Tara-Skryne Valley Group writes:

''Further photographs taken Saturday July 16th show more caterpillar marks on the 15 foot high topsoil grinding down any possible finds that might emerge. The large digger on site has been replaced by a much smaller one but the marks of the caterpillar wheels clearly show that they were caused by a much larger machine. The test trenching report stated that there was an expected “19 century (?) house” on this site and this is carefully marked out on site. But this is not to say that other materials are not hidden in the topsoil of what is recognised as one of the richest archaeological landscapes in Europe.

Most archaeologists agree that 50%-80% of artefacts are found in the topsoil. If another Derry na Flann chalice or a Tara brooch appears there is not much hope of finding it crushed beneath one of these monster machines.

The Minister of Environment has shown that he is no such thing. We have no Minister for Heritage. The Ministry that M.D Higgins so carefully built up has been destroyed, Dúchas is dismantled and the NRA is given responsibility for archaeology. The same NRA along with Meath County Council are completely insensitive to the concerns of the local people over the methodology employed here. Where is the Research Documentation that should accompany such a dig?

Public money is being wasted on this unnecessary excavation. This is not proper research archaeology. This is wanton destruction and vandalism of our most important archaeological, literary, historical and sacred landscape and it must be stopped now.''

'The photographs printed and others that have been taken since bear witness to the fact that no care is being taken of the topsoil that is being lifted by diggers and then has caterpillar wheel marks all over it. One photo shows a bone lying carelessly on the ground.'

The Save the TaraSkryne Valley Group is horrified at the recent commencement of so-called “archaeological” digging at Philpotstown/Blundelstown at the foot of Tara’s hill. Recent photographs in the newspapers show that the top of the Hill is clearly visible from this area. This directly contradicts the Taoiseach’s opinion that he could not see the Hill from the route of the proposed M3. These photographs clearly show that the top of the hill is only some fields away from the location of the proposed interchange. The coffee shop and church are clearly visible.

Minister Roche recently accused us and other opponents of telling “untruths” and of “a lack of open-mindedness” (Meath Chronicle published June 22nd 2005). The Minister also declared himself “astonished at their attitude and lack of respect of other people’s point of view” and criticised an inability to see any “argument but their own”. Perhaps the Minister should consider his own “lack of respect” in disregarding the STSV campaign, the experts, 320 academics worldwide and the Director of the National Museum, who all asked him to re-consider the route. The Route Selection Report and the initial archaeological reports also warned against this route. Indeed, the new CEO of the NRA, Fred Barry, told my colleague Dr Edel Bhreathnach that if the selection were taking place today this route would never have been considered. If it is wrong now, it was wrong in the years 2000-03. He also said that if the Government asked them to move the road that it would be awkward but that they would have to do it. It is the Minister and the Government who are not “open-minded” are airing “untruths” and are showing a “lack of respect”.

The Government has the power to move this motorway. Why are they insisting on this particular route? Is Blunderstown, sorry, Blundelstown the key? Is it so that all traffic can be funnelled into this interchange thus ensuring that no one can escape the tolls? The insistence on this particular route is just downright sinister.

This Minister also stated: ”I am satisfied that the directions I have issued will ensure best practice in the carrying out of the archaeological work … They will protect heritage.” But Pat Wallace of the National Museum stated in his letter to the Minister regarding excavators: “The chances of retrieving archaeological objects in the face of heavy machinery of this sort are … very limited indeed.”

The photographs printed and others that have been taken since bear witness to the fact that no care is being taken of the topsoil that is being lifted by diggers and then has caterpillar wheel marks all over it. One photo shows a bone lying carelessly on the ground.

Minister Roche also promised to stop all development in the Tara-Skryne Valley. His assurances as regard proper archaeological practice have come to nothing so how can we believe his empty promises as regards development?

Further photographs taken Saturday July 16th show more caterpillar marks on the 15 foot high topsoil grinding down any possible finds that might emerge. The large digger on site has been replaced by a much smaller one but the marks of the caterpillar wheels clearly show that they were caused by a much larger machine. The test trenching report stated that there was an expected “19 century (?) house” on this site and this is carefully marked out on site. But this is not to say that other materials are not hidden in the topsoil of what is recognised as one of the richest archaeological landscapes in Europe.

Most archaeologists agree that 50%-80% of artefacts are found in the topsoil. If another Derry na Flann chalice or a Tara brooch appears there is not much hope of finding it crushed beneath one of these monster machines.

The Minister of Environment has shown that he is no such thing. We have no Minister for Heritage. The Ministry that M.D Higgins so carefully built up has been destroyed, Dúchas is dismantled and the NRA is given responsibility for archaeology. The same NRA along with Meath County Council are completely insensitive to the concerns of the local people over the methodology employed here. Where is the Research Documentation that should accompany such a dig?

Public money is being wasted on this unnecessary excavation. This is not proper research archaeology. This is wanton destruction and vandalism of our most important archaeological, literary, historical and sacred landscape and it must be stopped now.

Muireann Ní Bhrolcháin
PRO of
Save the TaraSkryne Valley Group
http://taraskryne.org
087-9249510

author by Tara Photogpublication date Sun Jul 17, 2005 14:29author address author phone Report this post to the editors

http://www.taraskryne.org/

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author by Tara Photogpublication date Sun Jul 17, 2005 14:29author address author phone Report this post to the editors

http://www.taraskryne.org/

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dscf0028.jpg

author by Johnpublication date Sun Jul 17, 2005 21:00author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Get a grip on yourself. The photo shows a large number of fields and the digging is only going on in one small part. Less than one per cent of the whole Tara/Skyrne valley will be taken up by the new motorway. If, as you suggest, that one per cent contains lots of archaeological treasures then, by the law of averages, the valley as a whole should contain a hundred times as many. So, why don't all these heritage fanatics start excavation of the surrounding fields that are untouched by the motorway? Then, should they find lots of archaeological treasures, the National Museum will be overflowing and won't miss the one per cent possibly (or possibly not) lost as a result of the motorway. But, should they find nothing of great value, then statistically its very unlikely there was anything of great value under the motorway either. And, by the way, you all keep saying you'd be happy with a motorway going through a different route. So, how do you know the alternative route doesn't have more archaeological treasures under it than the chosen route? Almost 80,000 new houses are built annually in Ireland. These take up fifty times as much space as a motorway. Anyone of them could have a Tara brooch buried under it. Its just pot luck. Do you want each of these houses to be held up for a decade while archaeologists excavate the land they are built on, on the offchance that some archaeological treasure lies underneath?

author by Johnpublication date Mon Jul 18, 2005 09:32author address author phone Report this post to the editors

The map you've posted is out of scale. The motorway is about 400 yards wide on that map, about 3 times the length of Croke Park. Never actually saw a motorway that wide myself. If you drew the motorway to scale on the map you've posted, it would be a thin line barely visible to the naked eye. Your map also shows scores of archaeological sites nowhere near the motorway. Why don't you go excavate them? If they contain nothing, chances are the ones near the motorway contain nothing either. Its quite probable that, it being close to a river near the sea, people lived in the O'Connell Street area a couple of thousand years ago. So, presumably you would like it dug up too, just in case there are a few bits of pottery from druid times lying underneath.

author by Look at the viewpublication date Mon Jul 18, 2005 09:56author address author phone Report this post to the editors

For those of you that don't know Tara or Skryne.

The M3 will run through the Tara Skryne valley between St Patrick on the Hill of Tara and the the Church on the Hill of Skryne

St Patrick on the Hill of Tara looks at the Church on the Hill of Skryne
St Patrick on the Hill of Tara looks at the Church on the Hill of Skryne

author by Not a Druidpublication date Mon Jul 18, 2005 10:40author address author phone Report this post to the editors

John, Tara was a Gaelic settlement, a Gaelic capital or seat of the Gaelic High King.

Re your pottery comment, I have to admit, I sometimes wonder whether many of the beliefs of the modern self-named 'druids' are buffy-esq..

I'm not convinced that there is any connection other than notional one between the ancient Gaelic druids and those that that call themselves druids today.

But John, Tara is not about the modern druids, though I think they are welcome to do what they do as they don't do any harm. Tara is a place that stretches back so far into history that we only have a clue about some of it's history.

And as the road doesn't have to run through the valley, why put it there?

You should examine why the road is really running there. It is running there to service the 28 acre interchange at the foot of the hill. And the interchange is there as a funnel to get commuters off the free N3 and into the M3 tolling net. If the road road didn't have to make money, the current route would never even have been considered.

Ask yourself this - why aren't the Chambers of Commerce up in arms about the double tolls? 1 toll would have cause murder anywhere else, but in Navan and Kells they accept 2 without a question. WHY does the local media ignore the fact that Navan will be a town in Ireland surrounded by tolls - one at the North, one to the south? WHY don't they have that fact SCREAMING across their front pages? In fact it is barely even reported on. Because, the government has told Meath Co Co and the Business reps that the road has to pay for itself. If the tolls go, then no road.

To sell this road to the PPP investors this road has to guarantee high tolling revenue, or else it won't happen. The Tara Interchange is that guarantee. And unfortunately the best location for that interchange funnel is beside Tara.

author by Passer bypublication date Mon Jul 18, 2005 10:50author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Johnny, what's your take here??

Gaeil Óga are culturally motivated
Gaeil Óga are culturally motivated

author by Extra picspublication date Mon Jul 18, 2005 13:09author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Dig area is getting bigger

Digging in the shadow of Tara
Digging in the shadow of Tara

author by Extra picspublication date Mon Jul 18, 2005 13:12author address author phone Report this post to the editors

The excavator dug quite deeply, as is evidenced by this picture

Note the depth of the digging and the size of machine marks
Note the depth of the digging and the size of machine marks

author by Polpublication date Mon Jul 18, 2005 13:25author address author phone Report this post to the editors

The motorway will be an eyesore, but the associated ribbon development will be the true death-knell to Tara.

author by barrypublication date Mon Jul 18, 2005 14:51author address author phone Report this post to the editors

John, down in the bottom left hand corner of the map you will notice a little black and white bar. This is a scale. It allows one to see what scale a map is to. if you get a geography book, look up the map reading section and study how to read the scale of a map and then apply your new found abilities to the map of tara above, you will be pleasantly pleased to discover that the roadway as indicted is approx 150m wide which is about standard for a double carraigeway road with associated siteworks and landscaping. This area can of course reasonably be expected to be significantly disturbed during construction of a motorway.

For your futher information, and to practice your statistical analysis on: the test trenching for the road uncovered 38 new (or previously unknown, in the lingo) archeologically significant sites along the insisted route of the moneyway. Since the test trenching involved less than 1% of the area to be excavated, we can reasonably expect that some 3800 sites will be uncovered, excavated, documented and removed for preservation elsewhere during the rescue dig. That's a rate of approximately 10 per day assuming they intend to be finished in one year. i personaly think they will do well to 'preserve by destruction' each site in 10 days, which means they'll be digging for a hundred years! There's also the issue of where they intend to store all theses artefacts, maybe when the e-voting machines are finally dumped we can continue the €2,000,000 per annum leases to store tara.

Last (and possibly least), the email field on the comments form is for putting in an email address so people can reply to you, this should be in the form of someone@somewhere.net, eg john@dunree2000.com or troll@taoiseach.gov.ie or whatever.

regards and all the best with your studies,
barry

author by Johnpublication date Mon Jul 18, 2005 17:04author address author phone Report this post to the editors

If you get your magnifying glass out, you'll see the motorway is 277.5394 metres wide on the map as it appears on the screen, which is over 300 yards. Fair enough, not the 400 yards I estimated bleary-eyed first thing this morning without the aid of my magnifying glass. You might not be allowing for screen pixel resolution. But, even your 150 yards seems a trifle wide for a motorway. My sister's house is about 50 yards from the centre of a motorway so, if your estimate is correct, her house should have been well and truly flattened during construction of the motorway. You might also note that even on this zoomed-in map the motorway only takes up about 2 per cent of the area shown. So, if there are 3,800 'archaeologically significant sites' under the motorway, then statistically there are 190,000 such sites in the whole area shown. And that's just one tiny little patch in one tiny little corner of Ireland. How many do you want? Isn't that enough to keep all the archaeologists in Ireland busy for the next million years. By the way, what's that other faded line to the left of the motorway on the map? Good heavens! I do believe its a ROAD. And its closer to Tara than the motorway. So, how come all these 'environmentalists' don't object to that road? Presumably its because it blends in with the landscape, by which 'environmentalists' mean it has high hedges, so you can't see if a 40-ton truck is coming round the bend on the wrong side and narrow enough to be unable to avoid the truck when it does come. Motorways have been shown to be 8 times safer than any other form of road (UCD report in 2003). But, motorways are the only roads that 'environmentalists' object to. Build a poxy single carriageway with killer bends, no lighting, high hedges to block your view and no hard shoulder to drive into to avoid a head-on crash, and no one objects. But, build a proper modern road with dual carriageways, proper lighting, clear views of oncoming traffic, a hard shoulder etc, and every 'environmentalist' in the country is up in arms.

author by The Phantompublication date Mon Jul 18, 2005 17:38author address author phone Report this post to the editors

John, your obviously deeply interested in and probably very good a doing division juging from all the Maths you've done in your comment.
I could try and explain what it is your missing in this debate but if I have to do that you probably wouldn't grasp it any way.
However you could do something useful with your talent for Maths. This proposed M Way will meet the M50 at Blanchardstown. Just how long do you imagine its going to take to get onto the M50 at this point or over it if your heading straight into the city?

author by IRL Times Letterpublication date Thu Jul 21, 2005 14:09author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Irish Times letter 21 July 2005

Madam, - Frank McDonald's report in your edition of July 14th is a
depressing vindication of those 320-plus academics and scholars
worldwide who signed a statement expressing their concern for the fate
of Tara with the construction of the M3 tolled motorway through the
Tara-Skryne valley.

If the Department of the Environment, Heritage and Local Government is
so willing to abdicate its responsibility for Ireland's heritage to a
road-building quango, then surely the use of digging machinery and
dumper trucks to clear "topsoil" from the national monuments in the
royal estate of Tara should come as no surprise.

On foot of Minister for the Environment Dick Roche's directives, and in
deference to this most culturally sensitive of landscapes, where is the
detailed research agenda, the independent supervision and the standards
of best archaeological practice that we were led to believe would be
implemented? - Yours, etc,

JOE FENWICK, Department of Archaeology, NUI, Galway.

Related Link: http://www.ireland.com/newspaper/letters/2005/0721/index.html
author by Admirerpublication date Thu Jul 21, 2005 16:40author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Good to see something in the papers again

author by moapublication date Mon Jul 25, 2005 01:14author address author phone Report this post to the editors

"Worse yet, the looting of antiquity, words and objects, not only never ended but seems to have accelerated. From well organized gangs of grave robbers to American engineers building bases to American soldiers taking souvenirs, the ancient inheritance not just of Iraqis but of all of us has simply headed south. According to Reuters, more than 1,000 Iraqi objects of antiquity have been confiscated at American airports; priceless cylinder seals are evidently selling on-line at eBay for a few hundred dollars apiece; and this represents just the tiniest fraction of what's gone. The process is not only unending, but in the chaos that is America's Iraq beyond counting or assessing accurately."

Related Link: http://www.moonofalabama.org/2005/07/open_thread_057_1.html#comments
author by Jonathanpublication date Sat Jul 30, 2005 10:36author address author phone Report this post to the editors

John, you seem angry about this map thing and the size of the road. Your not addressing the argument of "slow down" the road doesn't have to built that fast. You seem upset like you're losing money for each day the project is delayed. I mean seriously John, roads for motorists are going to be obsolete soon. Is that why you want it built so quickly? Slow down and you might learn something about where you come from and maybe where you're going too.

mailto:kintumusic@yahoo.com

author by Road userpublication date Sat Jul 30, 2005 12:26author address author phone Report this post to the editors

An alternative route 2.5km shorter was available to the west of Tara. It was E40m less expensive than the current route. It was known as the Orange Route.


Look at the huge bevy in the current route between Dunshaughlin and Navan:
http://www.meath.ie/roads/M3_EIS/maps25_02_03/fig3_2.html

Now look at the the more direct AND cheaper Orange Route:

http://www.meath.ie/roads/M3_EIS/maps25_02_03/fig4_2.html

No John, whoever picked this route didn't have as an objective value for money, directness or speed of construction. Another example of wasted taxpayers cash.

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