Friday 4 May 2007

First close-up of prehistoric royal temple in a traffic lane

The Irish Independent has photographed the site. The article reads as follows:

THIS is the first close-up view of the pagan temple.

It is a late prehistoric circle of holes which would once have contained the wooden poles holding up a circular wattle wall some 80m in diameter.

The enclosure is believed to have been a site for royal ceremonies. And it currently lies across what will be the entire northbound lane of the €850m motorway.

Radio carbon dating will reveal its age - believed to be from the late Bronze Age/Iron Age and built between 1,000 BC and 400 AD (up to 3,000 years old.)

Archaeologists believe it may have been a royal site probably used for open air rituals at the same time that similar ceremonies would have taken place on the hill of Tara just two kilometres away.

The future of the site, and particularly whether it will be excavated, is in the hands of Environment Minister Dick Roche.

The Department of Environment has denied claims the minister has made a decision. "We are in the middle of a process," a spokesperson said yesterday.

It is understood Mr Roche is waiting for a response from the director of the National Museum, Pat Wallace, on the find and that is expected to be given by today.


Mary Deevy, senior archaeologist with the National Roads Authority, said there were a number of factors which led them to conclude it was potentially a national monument.

Unlike similar enclosures at Emain Macha, seat of the Kings of Ulster, in Armagh, and Tara, which had many phases of building and rebuilding, this new site seemed to represent just a single period of use for such rituals.

The first discovery was an arc of stakeholes which had once held wooden poles. These led to further work and they discovered the large outer circle of stakeholes which is around 80m in diameter.

Then they found signs of an east facing entrance and a smaller enclosure within the larger one. It is an exact circle with closely spaced stakeholes. The site is at the bottom of a natural basin and does not appear to have been roofed.

"It didn't appear to be defensive, was perfectly circular. When we put the plan of the enclosure together and looked at it, it was like 'Eureka!'," said Ms Deevy.

Elaine Keogh
Irish Independent

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