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Dublin: 16 °C Friday 19 April, 2019
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A 3,000-year-old wooden roadway in Westmeath could be destroyed

An Taisce consider the structure in Westmeath a major archaeological monument.

The site in Westmeath
The site in Westmeath
Image: An Taisce

AN TAISCE HAS criticised the government for failing to protect a 3,000-year-old wooden roadway in Westmeath.

The structure was discovered in 2005 and is located in Mayne Bog, Coole, in the county.

The road, also known as a ‘togher’, has been carbon dated to a period between 1,200 and 820 BC. When it was in existence the road would have been between 4.3 metre and 6 metres in width.

An Taisce has called for peat extraction work that is taking place at the site to be halted.

In a letter sent from the Department of Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht to the non-governmental body in June, it was stated that the wooden road is currently not entered into the Records of Monuments and Places for Westmeath, nor was it included in the national Register of Historic Monuments.

Excavations at the site took place in 2005 and also last year.

After the excavation last year recommendations were made that an area to the east of the development site should be preserved.

An Taisce has stated that in the letter it received in June Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht Heather Humpreys stated that taking further steps under the National Monuments Act would not be “useful or warranted at this stage”.

In response to a query from TheJournal.ie, the Department has said that it is working on an archaeological response to preserve areas of the togher on-site that can realistically be preserved, and to make records of areas of it that it feels cannot.

The Department considers that at this stage the protection of the monument should be pursued through the relevant development control frameworks and ongoing liaison with the developer. Consideration will, of course, be given to appropriate further steps under the National Monuments Acts if that should prove necessary.

A number of archaeologically significant objects have been discovered at the site since its discovery ten years ago, including a bronze sword, a kite-shaped bronze spearhead and a bronze doorknob spear-butt. 

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