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Archaeologists to visit Knowth 7/4/84
By Frank Mc Donald

Archaeologists from 12 European countries, who have spent the past days in the deliberations at the Royal Irish Academy, will travel to the Boyne valley today to visit the Knowth, Dowth and Newgrange archaeological sites.

The tour of Knowth will be led by Professor George Eogan, whose volume on the 22-year long excavation there has just been published. It has uncovered several layers of civilisation, stretching back to the Neolithic age some 5,000 years ago.

Knowth is not yet open to the public because it will take another four years to complete the excavation and also because the Office of Public works has embarked on a major conservation programme, Professor Eogan said: "They have already conserved a number of the tombs there, but really the whole place is still like a building site. It's not safe".

He paid tribute to the OPW for acquiring much of the land around the huge mound at Knowth to preserve its environment. At the same time, he mourned the loss of so many field monuments and other archaeological sites throughout the country, which have been wantonly destroyed in recent years by modern agricultural methods.

"The problem is that the fairy myths no longer hold their spell," Professor Eogan said "In Scandinavia, however, they replaced these spells three centuries ago with tough legislations to protect archaeological sites. And this legislation is much more effective than anything we have here".

As a result of Knowth, Newgrange and other excavations, he said there is now much more interest in Ireland among archaeologists abroad. "They are beginning to realise the crucial importance of Irish archaeology in any understanding of the development of European civilisation. We are no longer seen as peripheral in this area," he added.

The visiting archaeologists have been attending the first meeting in Dublin of the European Science Foundation's sub-committee on archaeology. They have been considering how the latest developments in scientific methods can be applied to archaeology, particularly in dating objects.

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