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Poulnabrone portal tomb in Burren at sunrise, Ireland.

Ireland’s Archaeology has More Public Support than Ever!

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It can be hard sometimes for archaeologists and historians to gain public interest and support in a world so filled with a focus on technology and modernity. But it is not the case everywhere. Irish archaeology for example has a huge amount of positive public significance.

Recent findings in a survey on Public Perceptions of Archaeology carried out by the Heritage Council found that Irish people believe archaeology is more important than ever with 95% agreeing that archaeology is of use to modern society. This figure is a testament to the undeniable place of importance archaeology holds in Irish culture , especially when compared to the lower rate of 90% in Europe.

Positive Views on Irish Archaeology

These findings come from a survey commissioned by the Heritage Council from RedC Research and Marketing, the first survey of its kind in Ireland on archaeological heritage. The significance of archaeology in Ireland is further bolstered by findings that 92% agree that having archaeological remains is an economic advantage for a town while 90% view archaeology as important for tourism.

90% view archaeology as important for tourism. (Heritage Council)

90% view archaeology as important for tourism. (Heritage Council)

The survey found that Ireland’s perception of archaeology is more positive than the EU average with Irish people seeing more roles for archaeology than Europeans, due in part to the rich and varied range of archaeological sites across the country.

Recognizing Ireland’s Amazing Archaeological Sites

Ireland is filled with amazing archaeological sites. The Beltany stone circle , Carrowmore megalithic cemetery , Knowth, Grange stone circle , and Loughcrew cairns are just a smattering of the older sites which have been featured on Ancient Origins due to their unique histories, legends, and impactful presence.

One of the dolmens at Carrowmore. (Image: Ioannis Syrigos)

One of the dolmens at Carrowmore. (Image: Ioannis Syrigos)

More modern examples of impressive historical Irish sites include locations such as: Blarney Castle , Grianan of Aileach , Dunollie Castle , Clonmacnoise, Loftus Hall , and Rock of Cashel .

But this is just a small taste of some of the fascinating ancient locations in Ireland. It’s little wonder that the Irish have such great value placed on their archaeological heritage, the region is brimming with fantastic historical stories and legends to tell and amazing sites to visit!

The Rock of Cashel is so named as it is built upon a large pile of rocks, which legends say were spewed out by the Devil. (Credit: Ioannis Syrigos)

The Rock of Cashel is so named as it is built upon a large pile of rocks, which legends say were spewed out by the Devil. (Credit: Ioannis Syrigos)

Questions of Legality and Conservation

The public’s fascination of archaeology is demonstrated by a finding that 25% of the survey population would be interested in working on an archaeological excavation , while 23% expressed an interest in studying archaeology.

Yet, when it comes to the protection of archaeological remains only 30% of the population are aware that it is illegal to search for archaeological objects with a metal detector. When presented with reasons for this, a large majority believe this is to ensure that archaeological objects do not fall into private collections and that monuments are not damaged.

A majority of those surveyed also agree that steps should be taken to conserve sites, possibly by implementing a stewarding rota or warden on site during busy times of the year, although respondents struggled to identify who exactly should be responsible for the preservation of archaeological sites with 79% identifying historical societies but only 59% feeling the government are responsible for the upkeep and maintenance.

Keeping an Interest in Irish Archaeology Alive

And every year brings new and exciting discoveries, some made by amateur archaeologists and lucky locals, some by trained professionals. Three exciting finds made in Ireland over the past year include: Bronze Age gold , a new henge – lovingly dubbed Drone henge – that appeared in the last heatwave , and a 5,500-year-old megalithic passage tomb . Obviously there is still archaeological wonders just waiting to be brought to light in Ireland.

Aerial photo of a visible henge found during the heatwave near Newgrange in Ireland. (Anthony Murphy/Mythical Ireland )

Aerial photo of a visible henge found during the heatwave near Newgrange in Ireland. ( Anthony Murphy/Mythical Ireland )

People are understandably interested in what’s going on in Irish archaeology today . Speaking on the recent Heritage Council survey’s findings Ian Doyle of the Heritage Council said:

“It’s really encouraging to find that the interest in archaeology is very much being kept alive, particularly amongst our younger generations. To see Irish perceptions of archaeology being so overwhelmingly positive, particularly when compared with our European neighbours, speaks volumes for how rich our country’s heritage really is. Hopefully the findings of this survey will go a long way towards supporting the continued preservation and conservation of our national heritage sites. In today’s climate it has never been more important to stay aware of our past and heritage”

Maintaining a link to the past has shown to be of significant importance to young people despite the explosion of technology and modernity with increased interest in the age group 18-24.

Maintaining a link to the past has shown to be of significant importance to young people. (Heritage Council)

Top Image: Poulnabrone portal tomb in Burren at sunrise, Ireland. Source: Patryk Kosmider /Adobe Stock

The article, originally titled, ‘Heritage Council survey finds huge public support for Ireland’s archaeology’ first appeared as a press release by The Heritage Council and has been republished with permission. It has been edited for content and length.

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