Work on section of M3 halted after archaeological find
Construction work on a section of the controversial M3 motorway, which is to pass through the Tara/Skreen valley, has been stopped after the discovery of a prehistoric “henge” by archaeologists.
The Department of the Environment confirmed this evening that Minister Dick Roche had received a report that archaeologists working on the route have found evidence of a monument at Lismullin, Co Meath.
The minister is now consulting with the director of the National Museum after the National Monuments Service inspected the site. A spokesman for Mr Roche said: “Work at or near where
the find was made has been suspended”. He said most of the work being carried out in the area was of an archaeological nature.
He said Mr Roche was hoping the matter would be dealt with “as a matter of urgency” by the director of the National Museum.
The prehistoric “henge” site is a circular enclosure which is estimated to be about the size of three football fields.
Currently, the archaeological team is authorised to continue to clean back the surface of the area, to complete a plan of the features and to check for associated features outside the enclosure. A small number of stakeholes are also to be excavated to try to recover sufficient material for radiocarbon dating.
The Campagin to Save Tara said it was “delighted” that the discovery of the monument meant that construction of the M3 would temporarily cease.
Spokesman Michael Canney said: ‘Everybody knew that this route was destined to destroy the landscape of Tara if it went ahead. The advice of national and international experts was ignored.
“This route was chosen because it was favoured by local politicians and businessmen. That this monument has been discovered is more by accident than by design and many other sites that were of significance have been hastily and inadequately surveyed.
“We now call on the Government and the NRA to abandon this route, admit they have made a serious mistake and act properly and positively to protect our heritage.”
The pro-Tara group TaraWatch, which originally reported the site to the Keeper of Antiquities at the National Museum of Ireland yesterday, said that Mr Roche should reroute the M3 in order to avoid the monument.
“This site is a show-stopper and is without doubt a national monument of world significance according to our experts. It would be a sin to demolish it,” said TaraWatch spokesperson Vincent Salafia.
Green Party environment spokesman Ciaran Cuffe said his party’s concerns about the M3 had been vindicated
“As far back as March 2005 I stated that going ahead with the proposed route for the M3 would be an act of cultural and historic vandalism.
“Only yesterday Martin Cullen was turning the sod for the M3 project, yet today work has been suspended. I am once again calling for all work to come to an end, in particular the massive floodlit Blundlestown interchange, and for the upgrading of the existing N3 to take place instead.”
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