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.
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.
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 www.archaeology.ie
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.
· 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.