back to main
Press Release section
30th Sept 04 - Action Group
Calls on New Minister To Protect Woodstown Site
20th Sept 04 - Action Group Formed To Protect
Woodstown Viking Site
30th September 2004
'Save Viking Waterford Action Group' Calls on New
Minister To Protect Woodston Site
The 'Save Viking Waterford Action Group', have
called on new Minister for the Environment, Dick Roche, to make
a commitment to the full excavation of the entire Woodstown Viking
Site one of his first announcements in his new role. The National
Monuments Act 2004, drafted by the previous Minister, Martin Cullen,
invests the Minister for the Environment with arbitrary authority
over Ireland's heritage.
The new act abolishes the democratic checks and
balances which previously existed, meaning that Dick Roche now
has sole authority over the future of the Woodstown Viking Site
and other sites of crucial archaeological importance around the
Chair of the SVWAG, Dr. Catherine Swift in reaction
to Mr. Roche's appointment: "Mr. Roche can make an auspicious
start to his new job if he orders the full excavation of the Woodstown
site, a site which potentially is one the most important archaeological
finds in Europe. The previous Minister had prevaricated and delayed
this decision for months, so we are calling on Dick Roche to grasp
the nettle immediately".
Dr Swift continued: "The National Museum, the Heritage
Council, the NRA and academics and scholars from across Ireland
and Europe have called for the full excavation of Woodstown. We
do not understand why the delay is necessary. The sooner the site
is excavated, the sooner the bypass can be built. The hesitation
denotes a propensity to put short-term economic interests ahead
of the long-term benefits which would accrue from the excavation.
It appears that the use of Public Private Partnership in the construction
of the road may be a factor. The new Minister must put our heritage
ahead of the profits for a private company.
SAVE VIKING WATERFORD ACTION GROUP FORMED TO PROTECT WOODSTOWN
A group calling for the full excavation of the Woodstown
Viking Site has been formed following a public meeting in Waterford
City last week.
The 'Save Viking Waterford Action Group' was established
following the formation of a committee at a meeting attended by over
100 people in the Granville Hotel on Thursday last. The Woodstown Viking
Site, discovered just outside the city during preparations for the Waterford
bypass has been described as: "The most significant new find in Viking
studies in perhaps a century" by Professor Donnchadh O'Corrain, medieval
historian at UCC. Archaeologists, historians, medievalists and conservationists
from around the world have welcomed the find and it has been predicted
that the site could be worth millions to the local economy in increased
The Minister for the Environment, Martin Cullen, has
said he would make a decision on whether or not he would order a full
excavation of Woodstown in the next month. Fears are increasing that
he will only order a 'rescue' excavation, a partial digging which will
fail to unearth the full wonders of Woodstown. The Save Viking Waterford
Action Group have formulated five demands that we wish the Minister
to meet in order to preserve the Woodstown site.
1. The Minister for the Environment orders the full excavation of the
entire Woodstown Viking Site and not a partial or rescue excavation.
2. The excavation to be done by hand without the use of heavy machinery.
3. The route of the Waterford bypass to be excavated first with the
surrounding areas excavated after, facilitating the construction of
the bypass without re-routing or significant delay.
4. The state to bear the cost of the excavation.
5. Once the site has been fully excavated and artefacts removed, an
interpretative centre/education facility to be constructed near the
site utilising the knowledge gained from the excavation and acting as
a tourist attraction for the region.
The Action Group will be organising a series of events
in the coming weeks, including a series of public meetings and lectures
with nationally and internationally renowned archaeologists and historians,
a region wide petition and a fact-sheet outlining the importance of
the Woodstown site. The campaign also hopes to organise a field trip
to the site for members of the public interested in seeing the site
which is believed to be the original Waterford.
The Action Group is also calling on community groups,
trade unions, environmental and conservation groups, and all members
of the public from around the region to support the campaign to excavate
Woodstown fully for the cultural and economic benefit it would bring
to the south-east.
The campaign has established a web-site: www.vikingwaterford.com
where details of the campaign and upcoming events can be seen.