George Eogan entering a souterrain at Knowth

George Eogan
George Eogan entering a souterrain at Knowth

Professor George Eogan entering a souterrain at Knowth when he brought the Committee for Archaeology from the European Science Foundation on a tour of the Boyne Valley at the weekend.

Letter to Editor - The Irish Times - April 1984

Sir, - Like your correspondent, Ursula Walsh (March 26th), I was disappointed that the article about the Boyne Culture on March 17th did not mention the recent findings of Martin Brennan (Stars and Stones). Mr Brennan claims that many of the megalithic monuments in the Boyne Valley and the Loughcrew region were used for calendrical purposes; if his theory is accepted, these structures will assume a new significance for our understanding of the development of Neolithic culture in Western Europe.

Radio carbon dating shows that Newgrange is at least as old as the oldest parts of Stonehenge and Irish megaliths may provide valuable data for the emerging science of archaeoastronomy. For a critical assessment of the state of archaeoastronomy, readers may refer to Megalithic Science by Douglas Heggie (1981).

Ireland has a rich heritage of field monuments which are tangible links with its ancient inhabitants. This heritage is in jeopardy from mechanised farming and farm improvement. In the booklet "Monuments in Danger" produced by the Royal Society of Antiquaries in Ireland, it is estimated that about 30 per cent of ancient field monuments have been destroyed since the beginning of the last century and most of this has happened in the past two decades. Megaliths which are astronomically aligned are particularly vulnerable to disturbance as the components may be widely separated and appear unconnected.

We have a responsibility to future generations to identify, study and protect these unique parts of our cultural heritage; time is running out and decisive action must be taken before it is too late ­ Yours etc.

Co. Dublin

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