No decision made on fate of Viking colony

A LONG-AWAITED report advising how to deal with a Viking settlement discovered as part of works on a by-pass of Waterford city has been delayed until September, Environment Minister Martin Cullen admitted yesterday.

Clearly irritated by recent comments made by environment groups and politicians about the Woodstown site on the edge of his native city, Minister Cullen has appealed to people to stop “going to the radio and newspapers” and making it “impossible” for him to make a balanced decision.

“Do not play into the hands of those who will take extreme views on this for we will end up with nothing,” said the Minister, who recently had a heated exchange about the Viking site with a representative of An Taisce on RTÉ’s Prime Time programme.

He said much comment had been made about the Viking dig in Waterford but he said the matter was now in the hands of the experts, who would not be in a position to give a report for at least three to four months.

The report is being prepared by a group set up by Minister Cullen comprising of experts from his department, the National Museum, the Department of Arts, Sports and Tourism and the National Roads Authority.

The group’s remit is to examine how best to care for the archaeology at the site, located along the bank of the River Suir about five miles from Waterford city.

The Minister will not make his decision on what to do with the settlement until he has received the group’s recommendations.

Minister Cullen said the archaeologist’s preliminary excavation licence to do the preliminary study of the site was now complete.

According to the Department of Environment, the “very limited” preliminary excavations finishing at Woodstown have been confined to a small area where existing watercourses had to be culverted.

Further investigations of the area are now being carried out.

The Minister said it was his view that there should be a “very full and thorough” excavation of the site after which the road would be built.

The Viking settlement is believed to pre-date the city of Waterford and may be even older than the Viking settlement excavated at Wood Quay in Dublin.

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