A FOUR-YEAR investigation of the site of the 1798 Rebellion battle, at Wexford’s Vinegar Hill, has unearthed artefacts, weaponry, and information.
Mass graves, containing the remains of up to 2,000 women and children, massacred on or near the battlefield, were found. The project has also found a prison, pistols and muskets, swords and musket balls, which may reveal how the emblematic battle unfolded.
Advances in technology mean that a proportion of these discoveries, far greater than anything anticipated, was made without large-scale excavations. There is, though, a cloud shadowing this venture, and many others like it dotted around the country. Ronan O’Flaherty, project chairman, said the great success of their work was undermined by the discovery that the site had already been stripped by people using metal detectors illegally. It is always tempting to dip a toe into the past, especially if that can be done easily by using a metal detector, even where its use is inappropriate.
This Indiana Jones freelancing represents a threat to our shared heritage and should be forcibly discouraged.
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