In 1983 a major conference on wetland archaeology took place in London. Papers concerning wetland archaeology in most areas of Europe were presented but, conspicuously, Ireland was absent. It is not true to say that at the time there was no wetland archaeology in Ireland. Indeed, writing a year later, John Coles was able to state “… destruction of Irish peatlands has been going on for decades, and there has been no national response”. This all changed, however, in 1985 as the archaeological importance of the wetlands came to be recognised. Soon systematic survey and selective excavation began, along with an element of scientific analysis of the evidence.
It must be admitted, however, as more and more trackways and other archaeological features were exposed, the scientific and archaeological exploitation of this material has not been satisfactory. Proper wetland excavation is complex, time-consuming and exceptionally expensive and is, indeed, only possible in the context of a major national initiative. In fact, only a single wetland excavation project in Ireland has involved the sort of scale, detailed analysis and scientific rigour which should be the norm. This is the Lisheen Mine Archaeological Project.
Generous funding by Minorco/Lisheen enabled all aspects of the excavations at Lisheen, over two long seasons, to be carried out to the highest level of archaeological excellence. In addition, as is evident from this volume, an extensive and intensive range of detailed environmental studies was carried out, both by Irish and foreign specialists, on a scale of intensity which had never before taken place in this country. Indeed, it may well be that such a detailed campaign of specialist study will not happen again in any Irish bog.
This volume is a fitting monument to the exceptional quality of the excavations and the research which followed, indeed, is a masterly synopsis of what wetland archaeology can be. It is thus a matter of sadness that in all probability future generations, viewing the wastelands of former Irish bogs, will regard Lisheen with regret as a lone example of what should have been.
|Author||Margaret Gowen, John Ó Néill and Michael Phillips|
|Publication Data||Published February 2005, paperback, 400pp, 120 mono plates.|
The Lisheen Mine Archaeological Project 1996–8
- ISBN: 1 869857836
- Author(s): Margaret Gowen, John Ó Néill and Michael Phillips
- Availability: In Stock