Brú na Bóinne World Heritage Site Research Framework - June 2008The Heritage Council in collaboration with the Department of the Environment, Heritage and Local Government is currently drafting a Research Framework for Brú na Bóinne, re-assessing key priorities and looking at where future research should be directed. Download Full Consultation Document (1.1mb PDF).
Submissions on the Research Agenda can be submitted to The Heritage Council up to the 1st August 2008 by or by post to Brú na Bóinne World Heritage Site Research Framework, The Heritage Council, Church Lane, Kilkenny.
Excerpt from Brú na Bóinne World Heritage Site Research Framework
The Bend of the Boyne, or Brú na Bóinne, is internationally renowned for its elaborate Neolithic passage tombs, containing the largest assemblage of megalithic art in Europe. The area has been an important ritual, social and economic centre for thousands of years and its universal value was recognized in 1993 when it was designated a World Heritage Site, only one of three on the island of Ireland.
In recent years there has been a growing international trend towards the use of research frameworks for World Heritage Sites, and while a considerable body of research has already been completed within Brú na Bóinne, many key research questions need to be addressed such as the dating and development of monuments, changes in the settlement record, and how perceptions of the complex changed through time.
Related management issues, preservation, conservation and interpretation within the World Heritage Site can also be seen as key issues. Accordingly, the Heritage Council in collaboration with Department of the Environment, Heritage and Local Government has begun drafting a Research Framework for the site, re-assessing key priorities and examining where future research should be directed.
Presented here is a state-of-knowledge summary of the archaeology of the Brú na Bóinne World Heritage Site (Resource Assessment) as well as a list of research questions identifying the gaps in that knowledge (Research Agenda). Submissions are invited on both, to be received by the Heritage Council before 1st August 2008, by or by post to Brú na Bóinne World Heritage Site Research Framework, The Heritage Council, Church Lane, Kilkenny.
Brú na Bóinne and the World Heritage CommitteeIn December 1985, at the instigation of the Royal Irish Academy, a committee comprising representatives from Meath County Council, the Office of Public Works, Bord Fáilte, the National Museum and UCD recommended that an Archaeological Park be established at Brú na Bóinne. This was followed by a Government commissioned study of the planning issues involved and in 1987, the State approved establishment of the Boyne Valley Archaeological Park. The core area, focussing on the passage tombs of Newgrange, Knowth and Dowth, was about 780 hectars ha in extent with a buffer zone of an additional 2500 hectars (total= 3300 hectars). These boundaries were to become the boundaries of the future World Heritage Site.
Ireland ratified the World Heritage Convention on the 16th September 1991, nominating the 'Archaeological ensemble of the Bend of the Boyne' for inscription on the World Heritage List a year later. Following an ICOMOS evaluation, the property was inscribed by the World Heritage Committee in December 1993. The 'Archaeological ensemble of the Bend of the Boyne' was judged to be of outstanding universal value, meeting three of the six criteria for cultural heritage:
[i] represents a masterpiece of human creative genius.
[iii] bears a unique or at least exceptional testimony to a cultural tradition or to a civilization which is living or which has disappeared.
[iv] is an outstanding example of a type of building, architectural or technological ensemble or landscape which illustrates (a) significant stage(s) in human history.
Specifically, the scale of passage tomb construction within the Bend of the Boyne, the important concentration of megalithic art, as well as the range of sites and the long continuity of activity were cited as reasons for the site's inscription.
A considerable body of research has been completed to date in the World Heritage Site involving large scale programmes of excavations at Newgrange and Knowth, field walking surveys, study of the megalithic art, and Stout's 2002 monograph on the landscape of the World Heritage Site. Nonetheless many key questions remain un-addressed such as the dating of monuments, changes in the settlement record, and how perceptions of the complex changed through time. Accordingly, it is an opportune time to re-assess what the key priorities are for the World Heritage Site and where future research should be directed.
To download the full document click on Consultation Document, the document is in PDF format and is 1.1mb in size.
It is hoped that the Consultation Document will stimulate discussion on the future of research in the Brú na Bóinne World Heritage Site. After more than 300 years since its re-discovery by antiquarians, the prehistoric monuments at the core of the World Heritage Site have made Brú na Bóinne the most intensively studied landscape on the island. However, one thing that should be evident from the Resource Assessment is the central position Brú na Bóinne has maintained throughout the millennia.
From prehistory to the arrival of Christianity to the early modern period, this landscape has come to reflect in microcosm the processes that have shaped society on the island since first contact. This Consultation Document clearly demonstrates the range and depth of research that has already taken place but equally how much more there is left to uncover, discoveries that will invariably inform not only the archaeology of Ireland but of Britain and continental Europe as well.
The drafting of the Research Framework for Brú na Bóinne provides an unique opportunity to shape the next major phase of archaeological research in Ireland at a time when continuing advances in techniques such as remote sensing and isotopic analysis allow us to unravel extensive landscapes as well as the small details of past lives.
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