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Volume 16 No. 2 Issue No. 60

Summer 2002

CONTENTS

8 A site for sore eyes: a Hiberno-

Roman curative cult at Golden, Co. Tipperary

10 Living with the dead amongst hunter-gatherers

1 3 a cursed miracle

14 Ireland and Japan—Bronze Age contrasts and comparisons

1 8 a puzzle in stone: the cathedral at Glendalough

22 The Mayophone

24 Antiquities from Irish holy wells and their wider context

29 Sean P.6 Riordain: a personal memoire

32 Ancient astronomical alignments: fact or fiction?

4 News

31 Events

36 Book news

41 Book reviews

45 Hindsight

46 Quote...unquote

A s s im i la t io n o f in t e r p r e ta t io n

The recent survey undertaken by Duchas The Heritage Service regarding proposals to change the requirements governing excavation licences, coupled with the continuing rise in the number of licences issued each year, raises once again a major question about the dissemination of excavation data.

The issue is how best to ensure that the wealth of information gathered from the everincreasing number of excavations is properly interpreted and communicated to the archaeological community and the general public, not to mention state bodies and local authorities.

The volume of material excavated in Ireland over the last ten years is probably greater than that of the preceding hundred years, yet the vast majority of these excavations remain unpublished. Consequently, the undoubted change that these excavations would make in our understanding of the archaeological landscape of Ireland—site distribution, new site types, etc.—has not taken place.

Unfortunately, the results of most excavations are archived in their raw state, with no effort being made to interpret them or to discuss their relevance locally, regionally or nationally. The onus for ensuring that this is not the case surely rests with the excavator and licence-holder as the person best placed to interpret the findings of their excavation. In other words, they must take responsibility for their actions.

Even if the excavator archives a detailed report on the excavations, any future interpretation of the site is at a remove that is surely unnecessary. If the results are not interpreted by the excavator, is the opportunity to do so with any degree of familiarity and certitude lost?

It may be that the state and the archaeological profession are equally culpable for sitting idly by while the information that may well clarify, embellish and question the archaeological record for many areas of the country is recorded and archived but not assimilated into the mainstream of archaeological knowledge. Unless all such sites are interpreted and entered into the Record of Monuments and Places, how can future developments be properly assessed?

Perhaps in the course of drafting a new framework for the licensing of archaeological excavations, Duchas and the relevant minister should make the interpretation and discussion of the findings of all excavations a compulsory part of any reporting process and ensure that this information is recorded in the Record of Monuments and Places at regular intervals.

It is not so long ago that the current volume of excavation was undreamed of, and one excavation often did make asummer. Yet without change history will surely show that in a time of plenty we failed to make provision for future famine and that hindsight is not a benefit in interpreting the findings of the present. At least, this is one interpretation!

Michael Connolly

EDITORIAL TEAM Tom Condit (Editor) ■Gabriel Cooney ■ Emer Condit ■Nicholas Maxwell ■Una MacConville ■ Brian Williams ■Chris Corlett Michael Connolly ■Aidan O'Sullivan MARKETING Una MacConville PRODUCTION Nick Maxwell ■Rachel Dunne ■Niamh Mackenzie TYPESET AND COLOUR ORIGINATION Wordwell Ltd PRINTERS Brookfield Printing Company PUBLISHERS Archaeology Ireland Ltd, P.O. Box 69, Bray, Co. Wicklow Tel 01-2765221 Fax 01-2940836 COVER design by Rachel Dunne SUBSCRIPTION RATES Ireland/ UK 1year: €19.69 Stg £15.50 2 year: €35.56 Stg £28.00 Overseas: 1year: $40.00 €27.93 2 year: $70.00 €50.79 Back issues to summer 1999: €4.45 Autumn 1999: €5.02 WEBSITE Visit www.wordwellbooks.com for more information on back issues 3