MORE national monuments have been uncovered along the contentious route of the M3 motorway.
Referring to the site recently uncovered near the Hill of Tara, the Meath Archaeological and Historical Society said: "This is not the only national monument that has been discovered in this section of the motorway, it is simply the only one that the roads authorities have so far recognised as such."
An enclosure uncovered at Lismullen, 2km from Tara, may be a sister site.
Other monuments found on M3, society claims
While Minister for the Environment Dick Roche considers the future of the new national monument found on the route of the M3 motorway near the Hill of Tara, it has been claimed that other national monuments have been uncovered on other sections of the same road.
An enclosure uncovered at Lismullen, 2km from Tara, may be a royal site and sister site to Tara, archaeologists with the National Roads Authority believe.
Yesterday the Meath Archaeological and Historical Society (MAHS) said: "This is not the only national monument that has been discovered in this section of the motorway - it is simply the only one that the roads authorities have so far recognised as such."
MAHS archaeological officer Julitta Clancy said the discovery has raised questions about the National Monuments Act 2004, "which leaves the decision on whether to report the discovery of a national monument entirely up to the developers on road schemes".
"The Act does not set out any objective criteria for the determination of what is or is not a national monument and one must ask how many national monuments are being destroyed along road schemes simply because they are not recognised as such."
She also claims that a complex of sites has emerged in the core Tara area, including evidence of human settlement and activity from the Mesolithic (middle Stone Age) at Blundelstown just north of Tara where a major intersection is planned.
Here there is "some of the earliest evidence for human habitation in Co Meath", while other sites, she believes, provide evidence of "very impressive settlement during the early historic period, including some outstanding ring forts; the complex could be best described as 'an archaeological mosaic'." Along with the Campaign to Save Tara, the group has asked the Minister to leave his decision on the future of the site until after the election.
Meanwhile, the company building the motorway said work is progressing on schedule. Enda Tyrrell, a member of the Eurolink M3 Ltd consortium, said that contrary to "recent misinformation in the media", the archaeological find "does not affect our day-to-day work on the project and the works are proceeding as scheduled".
© 2007 The Irish Times