Geophysical surveys to probe secrets of Hill of Tara

THE “secrets and treasures” of the Hill of Tara are set to be revealed following the most extensive survey of the area in recent years.

The Discovery programme, which is funded by the Heritage Council, is using non- invasive geophysical surveys of the hill as an aid to try and decipher what made Tara so important to our ancestors.

The geophysical survey of the one-time seat of the High Kings of Ireland is a collaboration with NUI Galway.

Senior lecturer in archaeology at NUI Galway, and expert on the Tara Skryne Valley, Conor Newman said the work on Tara has never stopped and “there is a commitment to cover as much land as possible with the geophysical survey.”

Mr Newman said the current work on Tara is significant because the concentration of monuments at Tara was exceptional and made it inconceivable there were not more to be found in the area.

The team of scientists will be working on Tara until the end of the month and will also survey privately-owned lands adjacent to the monument.

“It is very important people realise that the monument complex of Tara is not restricted to just to the top of the hill and (realise) that there are lots of monuments outside that as well and that the modern hedgerow and roads are just that — modern.”

Mr Newman, who has spent 18 years studying Tara, said he was confident archaeologists had only scratched the surface at Tara. The work on Tara will go on for generations to come and like all landscapes “it has the potential to enrich our lives”.

The archaeologist was also adamant that Tara should become a UNESCO world heritage site. “I would think it merits that, in terms of its importance nationally and internationally, but I feel quite strongly we ought to be able to look after our cultural landscapes ourselves first and foremost. We shouldn’t have to rely on an international badge to look after our own affairs.

“We need to do the right thing by this and other landscapes. If history has told us anything it is you need consultation, consultation and more consultation.”

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