Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Urgent! Important Early Christian Crannog in Fermanagh in danger of destruction - help needed!

The site under excavation (via The Impartial Reporter).

Dear All, I would like to draw your attention to a little crannog site just outside Enniskillen.

It is SMR site FER 211: 061 it is to be demolished to make way for a new road, and the archaeologists have only been given 6 weeks to excavate it. It is due to finish on Friday 20th July 2012 (The end of this week).

The site has produced a gold pin, a human skeleton, medieval leather objects, medieval woven cloth, a wooden plate, and barbed and tanged arrowheads, amongst other finds. Most importantly, it has produced the remains of a double-walled wattle house. This type of house has only previously been found on excavations Wood Quay, Co. Dublin, and Deer Park Farms, Co. Antrim.

This site is of vital importantance to our knowledge of crannog construction - it has the potential to be a vital piece in our understanding of the Early Christian period on this Island and its place within Europe.

Please help prevent the site from being lost forever and contact the Enniskillen MLAs and the media.

Link to The Impartial Reporter note on the site here.

Update [18 July 2012]. I have been asked to appear on BBC Ulster's 'Good Morning Ulster' tomorrow  to discuss the site.

Update [18 July 2012]. I have been given acces to a small number of photos from the site - they give a much better impression of the scene on site than the original photo can convey. They may be found here [deleted].

Update [19 July 2012]. My appearance on Good Morning Ulster can be accessed here for the next seven days (http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b007cps5). My piece is about 52 minutes into the programme.

Update [19 July 2012].  I am given to understand that only two extra days have been granted to complete the excavation of this remarkable site. This is a terribly short time, and in no way adequate to complete excavation to a professional level.

It is also with great sadness that I learned today that the site crew had been interrogated in an attempt to discover who had the temerity to speak to me for this blog. One brave individual spoke up and admitted that they had provided the excellent photographs that I posted in yesterday's update. By this evening they had been dismissed from their position without notice. I do not claim to be a legal expert, but I am of the opinion that they had broken no law, nor acted in anything other than a truly professional manner. Their 'crime' has only been to attempt to aid the cause of the proper recording and excavation of this important part of our shared heritage. I am also of the opinion that this form of retribution against the individual and intimidation of the remaining crew is nothing less than a shameful, and disgusting act. To that individual I can only offer my deep apology - I never intended for you to lose your job, and if there is any way I can assist you, now or at ant time in the future, you only have to ask. I would further add that you are to be congratulated for your courage in making those photographs available and for your bravery in then standing up for your actions. You have my deepest respect, and I can say that I am proud to know you. To the other members of the site crew and interested parties - to you I say this: you have struggled valiantly to excavate and record this crannog and you are to be congratulated for it. I don't believe that I have ever been more proud of a group of archaeologists in all of my career. I salute you all - we may have lost this battle, but I consider you all heroes, nonetheless.

To the those others, I say this: Please reconsider your decision to grant only another two days to this excavation. This is a site that comes along once in a generation - for the sake of a few extra weeks, I implore you to fund the excavation and recording of the site. The level of preservation here is such that, if you act now, you can yet emerge as heroes too - pepole who had the courage and foresight to do the right thing. I would also ask you to reconsider your actions of earlier today, and rehire the person so unjustly dismissed. As I said above, this is a contemptible act. You had the opportunity to provide a spokesperson to provide rebuttal to me today on the BBC, but you chose not to. You are aware of this blog post, but you did not choose to make any comment. Instead, you chose to victimize the most vulnerable in this situation - someone in your employ. Even so, it is not too late to undo this injustice.

Update [20 July 2012]. I have been interviewed by the Fermanagh Herald about the site. The online edition is available here.

I have just been informed that the extension to the excavation is not just to be a mere two days - it is to be two days with a site crew reduced down to four. Apparently there is an official statement saying that the archaeologists are happy with this.

Updates [up to August 6th 2012]

*** *** ***Cherrymount Crannog Crisis Facebook Group (here)*** *** ***

Press & professional coverage:

BBC report on the site (here)

BBC Report on Minister for the Environment, Alex Attwood, MLA, visit to the site (here)

Same from UTV (here),  Fermanagh Herald (here), The Impartial Reporter (here), and IrishDigest.com (here).

Coverage in Past Horizons (here).

Statement from the IfA (here).
Comment on the BAJR forms (here). 

Upadte from the IfA (here) citing an official statement from the Northern Ireland Archaeology Forum (NIAF) (here).

Paper given to IAI conference by Seaver, O' Dowd & Chapple (here). 

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