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ARCHAEOLOGY

IRELAND Volume 3 Number 4 Winter 1989 Published Quarterly CONTENTS Editorial.......................................... 122 News.............................................. 123 County Focus, Wicklow....................... 126 Some Christmas Customs....................132 Excavations at Dundrum Castle.............136 Stylistic Revolution in the Boyne Valley... 138 Human Bone Studies in Archaeology 143 A Future for Irish Vernacular

Architecture.................................. 147 Megalithic Tombs in South-West

Donegal....................................... 152 Events............................................ 155 Bookview........................................ 156 Letters............................................159

EDITORIAL TEAM Gabriel Cooney Emer Condit Paul Gosling Thomas Condit Nicholas Maxwell Brian Williams PRODUCTION Una MacConville Nicholas Maxwell Janet Sheehy C IRCULATION Una MacConville Printed by—Craftprint Ltd Typeset by—Wordwell Ltd and Brunswick Press Published by Wordwell Ltd—Academic Publications, 9 Herbert Lane, Dublin 2, Republic of Ireland. Tel. 01-612542. Lax 01-611896 Views expressed in the magazine don’t always reflect the views o f the editors.

Correction In our last issue Jim Higgins’ piece on the ecclesiastical site at Moyne in Co. Mayo was wrongly located in Co. Galway. Sorry Jim! 122

APPROPRIATING THE PAST

This is the tenth issue o f Archaeology Ireland and we would like to thank all our subscribers and readers for enabling us to celebrate our first double digit number. With your continuing support we look forward to presenting Ireland's archaeology in the next decade. Remember however that we always need more subscribers!

Our aim is to broaden knowledge and appreciation o f the complex nature o f Ireland’s archaeological record. Of course, it could be said that the archaeological perspective offers only one way o f viewing the past. Many people still hold a mythological view, certainly as far as Irish prehistory is concerned. The past is not passive but active because as we accumulate knowledge, as interpretations in modern society change, so does the past as it is presented. While this is inevitable, although it should perhaps be expressed more consciously and more frequently, what is much more ambiguous is an attitude that the past can be taken over and packaged for present day purposes. At what might seem an innocuous level the National Lottery ‘Jokers Delight’ game was promoted in advertisements that used images o f the medieval jester. These scenes are likely to be many peoples' only exposure to the medieval world. However they are designed to sell lottery tickets rather than convey information about the past.

One sad event in the autumn was the closure o f the Viking Adventure Centre in Dublin. An interesting comment about the Centre was that one o f the ‘Viking’ actors had used a Mount Merrion (substitute Montenotte or Taylor’s Hill) accent to show that he had a certain social standing. Is this imposition o f the present on the past the most suitable approach to improve understanding o f social nuances in tenth century Dublin? What are the limits o f our interpretational licence with the past? Looking at a different type o f Viking event we recently had news that one o f the famous five Roskilde ships scuttled off the east coast o f Denmark around AD 1125, and excavated in the 1960s, was probably built somewhere in the vicinity o f Dublin about forty-five years earlier. This major discovery is worthy o f the amount o f interest that it received at the highest official level. But is it enough that the past is being packaged and displayed for media and public consumption as if it only consisted o f spectacular finds and discoveries? What about thorny issues such as how we move from archaeological data to social and economic interpretation? Or how we would deal with the conservation o f a Viking ship found in Irish rather than Danish waters? Or indeed what is the future o f the National Heritage Council which was to be responsible for the co-ordination o f all activities in the field of heritage but which appears to be in danger o f becoming part o f the past in the present. Never mind, pass me my battered hat and whip and let’s go see what Indie is doing in the real world.

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