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Number 27 (Volume 8 Number 1) Spring 1994 Published Quarterly

Contents Editorial.................................................. 3 News 5 Darina Allen on Fulachta Fiadh 8 Fish Weirs............................................. 10 Preserving by copying...................... 13 New megalithic art in Sligo............ 14 New finds from Offaly......................16 The earliest plans from Clonmacnoise......................................18 Gold hoard from Ballinesker.......... 21 Dun Aonghasa................................... 24 Supplement on Archaeology In Ireland.....................29 Events....................................................39 Reviews................................................ 41 Letters................................................... 44 Spoil Heap............................................46 Editorial team Gabriel Cooney (Editor) Emer Condit Tom Condit Paul Gosling Nicholas Maxwell Una MacConville Mary Sleeman Brian Williams Marketing and Advertising Una MacConville Typeset by— Word well Ltd Film output— Lithoset Ltd Printed by— Brookfield Printing Company Colour origination— Lithoset Ltd Published by— Archaeology Ireland Ltd P.O. Box 69, Bray, Co. Wicklow Tel 01-2862649 Fax 01-2864215 Subscription rates: Ireland/ UK IR£12.50/£12.00stg. Europe IR£18.00 Elsewhere $30.00

C o v e r — D u c a t h a i r o n I n i s M o r , A r a n I s l a n d s

STILL TRYING TO REACH THE PAST THROUGH THE PRESENT One o f the common questions that archaeologists are often asked is what is there left to know about Ireland's past? In an island obsessed with its history people are surprised that there is more to find out about it. In this issue o f A r c h a e o lo g y Irelan d there are several examples o f archaeological discoveries causing a reinterpretation of the past. The identification o f megalithic art at Carrowmore, Co. Sligo, Late Bronze Age settlement at Dun Aonghasa on the Aran Islands and the Late Bronze Age hoard from Ballinesker. Co. Wexford, give us new information and insights into the nature o f settlement and society at different periods in the past. This is one o f the most exciting aspects o f archaeology, that our knowledge is constantly being augmented by new discoveries.

On a more prosiac but equally important note, these discoveries were hidden in the landscape, only to be revealed through survey and excavation, and often by chance. Yet they form an important complement to the rich resource of visible archaeological sites in the landscape. But perception o f the archaeological past and its use as a marketing icon for Ireland is dominated by the visible stone monuments: misty megalithic tombs, gaunt standing stones, impressive stone forts, castles galore. Managing this rich visible archaeological resource is difficult for the relevant authorities, but the question has to be asked: do we really take enough cognisance of the hidden sites? They very often hold the key to vital questions about trying to understand the past, for example the nature of settlement patterns. Yes, of course increasing attention is being paid to the practice of site and area assessment before large development projects, but have we taken on board the concept that we should presume that archaeological sites are present in any area of landscape and then set out to to test this, rather than assuming an absence unless there is some definite surface evidence?

The past is constantly changing also in the sense that our interpretations are not constant, as new information becomes available and as new ideas are applied to the evidence. These ideas reflect, o f course, changes in our own society. Thus the alteration in the perception over the last thirty years o f prehistoric hunter-gatherers from one o f marginalised and parasitic low-lifes to ecologically sound, spiritually well-off people has a lot to do with trends in modern western society since the 1960s. It could be argued that we constantly change our versions of the past to meet the changing needs of the present and this if nothing else might be something useful and relevant to remember in modern-day Ireland.

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