Proposal to de-list archaeological and historical sites that post-date 1700

Vinegar hill windmill
Vinegar hill windmill (RMP WX020-032) to be de-listed?

A very worrying proposal has been made by the Department of Arts, Heritage & the Gaeltacht to remove statutory protection from archaeological and historical sites that post-date 1700. You can read more about this proposal and The Institute of Archaeologists of Ireland response below.

Dear All,

The Board of the IAI believes the following issue be to the detriment of the country’s archaeological resource. The opionion of the members on the topic, its importance and creative solutions are sought. Please respone before Tuesday 20th September.

Regards Christine

The issue
It is proposed by the Department of Arts, Heritage & the Gaeltacht that monuments dating to the period post- AD1700 will be delisted from the Record of Monuments & Places (RMP), thus removing their statutory protection, and their conditioning within the planning system These monuments have been highlighted in green on the Department’s website
The Archaeological Survey of Ireland (ASI) has been locating, recording and describing the archaeological monuments of this country for several decades. The criteria for selection, of monuments to be recorded in each county have, however, been variable. Significant numbers of post-AD 1700 monuments have been included in the RMPs for Cork, Galway and Dublin, but not in a consistent manner. In 1982, guidelines were provided the Cork Archaeological Survey advising them to survey “everything up to 1700 and selectively afterwards”. A detailed and systematic survey was undertaken by the Cork Archaeological Survey in order to make an informed selection of post-AD 1700 monuments.

The ASI is currently preparing a revision of the RMP. The ASI is obliged under government policy (2005 White Paper, ‘Regulating Better’) to ensure that there is consistency across the recorded monument listings for each county. Primarily due to limited resources, as well as a back-log in processing the previously collected datasets, the ASI is proposing that any post-AD 1700 monuments previously recorded on the RMP should be de-listed.

The National Inventory for Architectural Heritage (NIAH) whose work ‘involves identifying and recording the architectural heritage of Ireland from 1700 to the present day’ does not currently record many of the smaller scale or more industrial monuments that are integral to development of Irish history and society during this period.

Position of Institute of Archaeologists of Ireland (IAI)
· The AD 1700 date, although used as a cut-off point, has no basis in legislation in defining whether a monument is or is not archaeological. By stating that all pre-AD 1700 monuments are archaeological, it does not preclude monuments of post-AD 1700 as being defined as archaeological; ‘date is not in itself a determinant of archaeological significance or interest. Any material remains which can contribute to understanding past societies may be considered to have an element of archaeological significance.’ Frameworks and Principles for the Protection of Archaeological Heritage (Dúchas 1999).

· Sites currently being scheduled for delisting – such as vernacular buildings, lime kilns, holy wells, bridges, milestones, industrial sites etc. – will not qualify for inclusion in the Record of Protected Structures of each county and will therefore be left without any form of protection.

· Any removal of protection from post-AD 1700 sites on land would be at odds with the legislation for shipwrecks, resulting in different protections for sea and land.

· The archaeology of the post-AD 1700 and industrial period is the archaeology of the Diaspora and the immediate ancestors of the Irish people. By delisting the post-1700 monuments, access to a valuable resource will be removed.

· In contrast to the ASI’s proposed removal of the industrial heritage record of Cork and other counties, the Northern Ireland Environment Agency (NIEA) continues to build on their interest in structures dating to this period. The NIEA’s Industrial Heritage Record lists more than 16,000 features. Although many entries are somewhat limited in the information provided, a systematic second survey of historic buildings in Northern Ireland is underway, and results are accessible through the Industrial Heritage Database in the Monuments and Buildings Record.

· There is increasing recognition of the value of our industrial heritage at regional and local level. Projects such as the Industrial Heritage Survey of Fingal led by Mary McMahon, are systematically examining the documentary and cartographic sources (Phase 1) and have uncovered hundreds of new sites. Funded by the Heritage Council through Fingal County Council it is ridiculous to believe these sites would have no legal protection. Similarly the numerous sites excavated under archaeological planning conditions would not have taken place if the current proposal had been in place.

IAI proposals
· The IAI proposes that the ASI internal policy of removing post-AD 1700 monuments from the RMP has to change, and that the ASI needs to better acknowledge the post-AD 1700 archaeological resource.

· The NIAH should record all post-AD 1700 monuments on a comprehensive rather than selective basis, thereby fulfilling its remit as a national inventory.

· IAI contends that there is an opportunity to tap into LEADER funding and the Jobbridge national internship scheme to assist in the recording of all post-AD 1700 monuments. Such an initiative could also provide training opportunities for unemployed persons, particularly those in the archaeological profession.

41 thoughts on “Proposal to de-list archaeological and historical sites that post-date 1700

  1. The proposal to remove designated monuments from the statutory Record of Monuments would appear to have no legal basis and appears to be a violation of the Valetta Convention to which Ireland is a signatory.

    Section 12(1) of the National Monuments (Amendment) Act 1994 states that the Commissioners (now the Minister)
    “Shall” establish and maintain a record of monuments and places where they believe there are monuments…

    Having published and displayed the statutory lists for each county the Act has no provision for the removal of sites designated as monuments unless it can be demonstrated that they were not monuments in the first instance, have been marked in the wrong place, have been completely removed to subsurface levels or have been preserved by record and thus should be removed from the record because they no longer exist or are in a different location. Legal advice should be sought in regard to this, but it would appear likely that the removal of sites from the Record of Monuments would in fact require an amendment to the 1994 Act which established the Record.

    Article 2i of the European (Valetta) Convention on the Protection of the Archaeological Heritage (Revised) 1992, states that:

    Each Party undertakes to institute, by means appropriate to the State in question, a legal system for the protection of the archaeological heritage, making provision for:
    i. the maintenance of an inventory of its archaeological heritage and the designation of protected monuments and areas;
    The removal of previously designated monuments from the Record of Monuments for administrative reasons such as limited resources or a back-log in processing the previously collected datasets would appear to be a violation of the Convention.

    Note that article 7 of the Convention also states:

    For the purpose of facilitating the study of, and dissemination of knowledge about, archaeological discoveries, each Party undertakes:
    i. to make or bring up to date surveys, inventories and maps of archaeological sites in the areas within its jurisdiction;
    The failure for administrative reasons to properly update the Record of Monuments would also appear to be a violation of this article.

  2. It might also be possible to tap into social resources in order to help list sites that post-date 1700. For example, many such sites are included on site as places of interest. Perhaps some creative thinking could get the job done rather than throwing in the towel so that everyone suffers.

  3. I am all for the suggestion that the IAI have suggested about internships for the unemployed with archaeological knowledge being placed, as to help clear backlogs or to aid in the surveys of any monuments.

  4. Insane idea. Quite apart from anything else, this would mean leaving Ireland’s 19th Century workhouses and other Great Famine era structures unprotected. I doubt if any other decent society worldwide would even consider an equivalent step.

  5. Nothing surprises me on this issue. It is no different to years ago, when our older his story was rewritten and our true past written out.Shudder the thought that the world would learn of our genocide- aka- famine.
    As for the sacred wells etc, these belong to our mother Eire and existed long before 1700.

  6. What a wonderful idea., and what a relief to see that somebody in the country is thinking progressively! Of course it is high time to get rid of all those old eyesores like the Customs House, Four Courts, Castletown House, etc. and bang up some more modern cement-block structures in their place – ah sure ’twill be grand lads. Why not extend the date back to say 1000AD – then we could get rid of King John’s Castle, and all those damn monastic foundations like Jerpoint and Monasterboice and Ardfert that are littering the landscape; to say nothing of Thoor Ballylee, and Staigue and Minard Castle! What a brilliant well-thought out proposal – whomever is responsible should be awarded one of those massive public-service pay outs and a grand pension. Just watch the tourist figures explode when all that old rubbish is gone from our green and pleasant land

  7. Just to note, when it comes to historic buildings many would be afforded protection through the Record of Protected Structures.

  8. The Cillini are currently protected under the national monuments act. If the Proposal to de-list Irish archaeological and historical sites that post-date 1700 passes the graves will no longer be protected. Remember one gravesite alone in Milltown has been found to have 30,000 bodies and counting and there are 1,000s of cillini sites throughout Ireland.

    In the words of the poet Derek Mahon.

    “They are begging us as you see
    in their wordless way
    To do something or speak
    on their behalf
    or at least not to close
    the door again”
    In the words of the poet Dereck Mahon.

    “They are begging us as you see
    in their wordless way
    To do something or speak
    on their behalf
    or at least not to close
    the door again”

  9. We are a nation rich in history and floklore, yet many of our records have been destroyed. To put at risk our post 1700s archaeological and historical sites would be a crime against our primogenitors and against the generations to come. For what? Is it because of lobbies? Is it for the property? For what ever the reason, it is not in the service of this nation.

  10. And famine burial grounds, workhouse and asylum burial grounds…. None are likely to make it onto the Record of Protected Structures and many are rural sites that are not included within the “zone of archaeological potential” that many urban environments have.

    posted by Leigh Barker in the

  11. Belinda, I don’t see anything about UNESCO suing Ireland on that link, but I wish they would. Listening to their deafening silence over Tara and Newgrange, I doubt that will EVER happen.

    This is an outrageous proposal, which breaches the State’s constitutional duty to protect our cultural heritage.

    I understand the deadline for public submission is tomorrow. What’s the address to send them to?

  12. Vincent I don’t know the address but good luck. It’s just a guess on my humble part, but I wonder if the delisting of post 1700s is due to the fact that they want to stay in compliance with UNESCO regarding the listing of the 10 new sites, and with resources stretched so thin, delisting post 1700s is a route they are taking. Here is a link re the Tara controversy.

  13. How much time do we have before this ‘proposal’ takes effect? The very places that would be removed, are as the IAI states “the archaeology of the Diaspora”. The Foreign Ministry states there are 70 Million people of Irish descent in the Diaspora. Time to mobilize the Diaspora. Can someone suggest the best locations for emails, letters, etc. to be sent? In my opinion, the Diaspora has to help support the IAI in their attempt to block and/or change this proposal.

    1. Thank you. I have an e-newsletter that goes out to Irish-American individuals as well as to I-A organizations. I intend to notify all of this insane proposal and ask for their written support. 35 Million of the 70 Million in the Irish Diaspora live in America, according to Ireland’s Foreign Ministry. Time to get them involved and give their support to defeating this proposal.

  14. It makes no difference, councils will not have to circulate these sites before giving permission to destroy them. Thats for the fools the easy way is to send in the bulldozer and as the owner has not been officially informed about the listing he is immune.

  15. under the current law it is illegal to delist sites. While it is good
    to know that law is hopefully being adhered to now, what will happen after the
    legal review? If it gives the power to delist sites then it may not be a good
    thing. Ordinance survey have had a list of known burial sites since 1825. I
    think it’s time to pay our respect to the forgotten dead before they are legally
    subject to delisting.

  16. Many people are not happy with the OPW so they think the delisting is the way to
    go. It is a dangerous route and a better way for them to go would be to contact
    their local reps and write letters. If delisting is passed it’s because of
    dissatisfaction with OPW but they are not aware of the dangers of delisting.
    They need to be made aware. I’m not saying that OPW is good bad or indifferent but thats the word on the net. Maybe all thats needed is discussion.

  17. Can anybody tell me how to access the Department’s list of sites proposed for delisting? All I can get on is their map browser and a long note saying the site is out of action.

    On the shoreline at Glengad, above Broadhaven Bay’s widest sweep, is the spot where the pipe hits landfall. Above this wild, wondrous foreshore is a standing stone circle. “It goes back to the first farmers on this land, and beyond,” says O’Domhnaill as we clamber up the hill for a better view of the ocean sweep. This is where the pipe will come ashore, after which it will run overland beside the stone circle, beneath the estuary to Rossport, and journey overland to the refinery. It is here that Shell has been obliged to reduce the high pressure at which the gas will come ashore, but those who live here remain exposed to what they believe – despite Shell’s assurances to the contrary – is the weakest joint, and most potentially dangerous point, in the process.

    Above the site and just below the stone circle is the home of John Monaghan, who formed a group that split from Shell To Sea’s absolute opp…

    Shell’s battle for the heart of Ireland
    How an Irish community is being torn apart by Shell

  19. You have to be kidding…. I am not amused… would really damage the tourest industry and deprive everyone of this rich history.

  20. 1- Proposal to Not remove archaeological and historical sites that post date 1700 | Irish Archaeology

    And also not allowing the Department of Arts, Heritage, Gaeltacht remove statutory protection from archaeological and historical sites that post date 1700.

    2- Also that the duty of Antiquities Protection Act is to protect the relics, not vice versa

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.