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Autumn 2021 Volume 35 No. 3 Issue No.137
Irish people love to talk about the weather, but we’ve all noticed that the language we use is changing. This is because we are witnessing the effects of climate change and becoming increasingly aware that this is what is affecting our weather. News reports, social media and the man in the street are highlighting the increased intensity of rain, the frequency of heatwaves, droughts and floods, increased storminess, sea-level rise, temperature changes and more. We are told about the things we can do to slow this process, like changing our diet, letting our lawns grow, flying less, driving electric and so on. Whatever about the impact on our personal lifestyles, the environment around us is being affected, including our many heritage sites. The extreme drought of 2018 was an exciting time for archaeology with the appearance of so many cropmarks, but since then appreciation of the damage to sites and monuments caused by the effects of climate change has grown. It can all feel a bit overwhelming.
Thankfully, we also know that we do not have to sit back and helplessly watch it all crumble or wash away. Many projects and schemes are under way that are monitoring our sites and the landscape, such as the CHERISH project, which is looking at coastal sites in Ireland and Wales; CITiZAN—Coastal and Intertidal Zone Archaeological Network in England; the French ALeRT project (Archéologie, Littoral et Réchauffement Terrestre—Archaeology, Coasts and Climate Changes), looking at the English Channel and Atlantic shores; the MASC project (Monitoring the Archaeology of Sligo’s Coastline); and, most recently, Fingal’s Heritage X Climate project. Many of these projects actively call on local communities to get directly involved in monitoring and recording archaeology with the goal of informing and alerting the relevant authorities about sites at risk, allowing them in turn to put the most appropriate plans and mitigation measures in place.
Of course, not everything can be saved and we do have to prepare ourselves for some losses. As archaeologists we are all too familiar with the concept of loss and the necessity of preservation by record as a compromise. This is a legacy of many developments such as the road schemes—which brings to mind the recent exciting discovery of the Gortnacrannagh idol in County Roscommon, a fantastic reminder of the treasures to be found in our wetlands. This in turn reminds me to mention the upcoming annual National Monuments Service conference, Nexus—people and places through time, which is all about the kinds of connections, both physical and social, important to humans of every era, as well as how we connect the people in the present with the past. You can see the details of the speakers and their talks in this issue. It promises to be an interesting day, so be sure to register early!
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