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N u m b e r 4 7 (V o l u m e 1 3 N u m b e r 1 )

S p r i n g 1 9 9 9


EDITORIAL TEAM TomCondit (Editor) Gabriel Cooney EmerCondit NicholasMaxwell UnaMacConville BrianWilliams JenBrady ChrisCorlett MichaelConnolly AngelaDesmond AidanO'Sullivan MARKETING UnaMacConville PRODUCTION NicoleMcKenna JenBrady NickMaxwell TYPESETby— Wordwell Ltd FILM OUTPUT— Wordwell PRINTEDBY— Brookfield Printing Company COLOUR ORIGINATION— Wordwell PUBLISHEDBY— Archaeology IrelandLtd P.O.Box69, Bray, Co.Wicklow Tel01-2862649 Fax01-2940836 Subscription rates: Ireland/UK IR£14/£15stg. EuropeIR£20 Elsewhere$35 Cover— Photographic montageof cross-slabsfrom HighIsland, Co.Galway,and Castledermot, Co.Kildare.

FEATURES Themagneticpresence 8 ofQueenMedb Holedstoneat 12 Castledermot, Co. Kildare AboominNeolithichouses 13 TheHeritageCouncil 17 TheWaltonBasin,Wales: 21 SurveyExplorationand Preservationofthe Archaeological Heritage Theearlymonasteryof 24 HighIsland BeneaththegroundatTara 29 RoughanHill, aFinal 30 Neolithic/Early BronzeAge landscaperevealed Ofgodsanddrinkingmen 33 Aremotesenseofthe 36 seabed


Booknews&reviews 38 Events 44 Hindsight 45 Spoilheap 46


P A R T I A L R E C A L L IN THESE DAYS when the cultures and fashions o f the bodies which control archaeology in Ireland appear to be changed more o ften than a N eolithic lo in c lo th we can easily lose s ight o f the im portant and significant advances in archaeological research and the potential o f new in v e s t ig a tio n te chniques. S om e tim e s our appreciation o f new archaeological evidence can develop so quickly that we forget that we did not alw ays know what we know today. M o reover, in te rp re ta tio n o f the available ev id ence is lik e ly to change in years to come as more evidence comes to light. For this reason the records, d e scriptions and accounts o f a rchaeological excavations, artefacts and sites will become as im portant for future re-evaluation as they are for present-day interpretation.

A rm ed with new technologies and concepts, we now have the potential to find out about things which even the ancients had no p recise knowledge o f. Take, for exam p le , the huge advances in dating te c h n iq u e s , w h ich have not only revolutionised our appreciation o f the age o f monuments but have also pushed some further back into the depths o f prehistory than we would otherwise have im agined. About 50 years ago. 2000 BC would have been a reasonable estim ate o f the date o f construction for the great passage tom b o f N ew g range. Today radiocarbon d a tin g , a m e thod first employed in 1949, points to a date 1500 years earlier, in the fourth m illennium BC.

In th is issue o f Archaeology Ireland we feature a number o f articles highlighting im portant evidence which has turned up during developm ent projects and th rough the application o f geophysical surveys both on land and at sea. Evidence such as the c ircu la r enclosures w ith in and a round R a thcroghan M ound or the large hengiform monument on the Hill o f Tara—two o f what would be considered to be the best-known archaeological complexes in the c o u n try —would be unknown in the absence o f la rg e -scale excavation. Sites such as the Neolithic houses, most o f which have no surface ev id ence and are lo cated in tow n lands w ith nam es unfam iliar to even the most enthusiastic archaeologists, would have gone unrecognised were it not for the presence o f archaeologists during the construction phases o f development.

Investm en t is required in the rem o te -sensing m e th ods and te c h n iq u e s w h ich b r in g such e x c i t in g ev id ence to lig h t . The development and application o f non-destructive geophysical survey methods need to be nurtured and allow ed to evolve. Moreover, the principal tools o f a rchaeological m anagement and research —the records o f s ite s and m o n um en ts , and the a rch iv e s in our museums —also need to be rigorously m anaged, m a in ta ined and updated.

We should rem ember that the product o f archaeological research is not a static collection o f catechism ic precepts to be fossilised in a publication o r v is ito r centre d isp lay in p e rp e tu ity . We need to recognise the im perfections o f the d iscipline, to review at regular intervals the results o f ongoing research, and to marry new data with o ld . A bove a ll we n eed to appreciate the unique and c ru c ia l contribution of archaeology to the cultural fabric o f our island.

Tom Condit

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