New road poses big threat
to ancient sites

Meath Chronicle, April 22, Front Page:

Some of the 64 unexcavated archaeological sites around the Ashbourne area
could be destroyed if the new N2 bypass is built on the route to the west of
the town which has been identified by consultants for the new project.

The Meath Archaeological and Historical Society and residents in the area
now want a thorough excavation of seven sites in the Baltrasna and
Fleenstown areas and protection of the monuments there from potential damage by the proposed road.

The threat to the sites has been brought to the attention of Duchas, the
Heritage Service, and Meath County Council. The planned N2 realignment
passes directly through four sites and close to (within 100 metres) of three
other sites.

Mr. Ephrem Feeley, a native of Ashbourne, who became interested in the
wealth of archaeological heritage around the area a number of years ago when
undertaking a project for the Aer Lingus Young Scientists competition as a
student at Belvedere College, Dublin, has supplied extensive research
material to the residents who oppose the use of the route in their area for
the Ashbourne by-pass and to the Archaeological and Historical Society.

Ashbourne Archaeological and Historical Society is also backing the campaign to protect the sites. Mr. Feeley undertook extensive research and study of the remains in the wider Ashbourne area from 1989 to 1992.

Mr. Feeley, who now works as a teacher in Co. Kildare, explained that the sites dated from 4000 BC to around 1000 AD. Their significance as evidence of continuous settlement in the Ashbourne area for a period of thousands of years could not be ignored, he commented.

Mr. Feeley is worried that they "would be destroyed during the building of this road." He went on: "Legally, these seven have to be excavated during the Environmental Impact Assessment and ideally they would be left alone and a new route chosen," said Mr. Feeley.

Particularly interesting discoveries are a ring ditch at Killegland and
large enclosure at Baltrasna.

Meath Archaeological and Historical Society secretary Oliver Ward, Nobber,
said they were anxious that the County Manager Joe Horan and the NRA
carefully examined these sites, and then reassessed the N2 project in the
light of their findings.

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