Ancient Pagans Stop Motorway (For Now)

Jason Pitzl-Waters —  May 9, 2007 — Leave a comment

For some time the Irish government has been planning a controversial motorway expansion that would run through the Tara-Skryne Valley, home of the legendary Hill of Tara. The site is home to several ancient monuments, and for most of Ireland’s history was its political and spiritual capital. Critics of this plan, which include academics, environmentalists, and 3500 MySpace users, have so far been unable to stop building through protests or legal challenges.

But now it looks like ancient pagans (or at least their henges) have been able to halt construction just one day after the ground-breaking ceremony.

“Dick Roche, T.D., Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government has received a report that archaeologists working on the route of the M3 motorway have found archaeological evidence of a national monument at Lismullin, Co. Meath … no works which would interfere with the Monument may be carried out, except works urgently required to secure its preservation, carried out in accordance with measures specified by the Minister … The National Monuments Acts provide that where the discovery of a National Monument has been reported to the Minister he must consult with the Director of the National Museum before issuing directions in the matter to the road authority.”

Despite this set-back, critics of the motorway expansion fear that the government will pressure to have it quickly documented (a few days) and destroyed to make way for the construction.

“The site of a massive ancient pagan temple unearthed at one of Europe’s most archaeologically significant sites will be buried under a controversial motorway, campaigners warned last week. Fears were growing that the government is to plough ahead with the contentious M3 route despite the discovery that has excited heritage campaigners. The government insists it has not decided the future of the major find near the historic Hill of Tara in Co. Meath – uncovered just 24 hours after Transport Minister Martin Cullen turned the first sod on the project.”

An environmental group is already threatening legal action if they attempt to destroy the henge, while a local archaeologist bemoans the fact that it has come to legal action.

“The campaign to preserve this site has become a legal battle when in fact it should be an ethical one – whether we value our heritage or not.”

But it looks like, for now, the site has been given a reprieve thanks to the spiritual practices of ancient Irish pagans. A superstitious person could even comment that a message was being sent. To remain updated on the battle over this site, and the motorway expansion, check out the TaraWatch blog.

Jason Pitzl-Waters