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Frequently Asked Questions

What is Archaeology?

Archaeology is the study of past societies by examining the remains – material, environmental and structural, left behind by human activity.

What is a National Monument?

Any archaeological monument which is designated as being of national importance by the National Monuments Service and afforded legal protection as such is known as a National Monument.

Who is responsible for protecting our National Monuments?

The National Monuments Service is responsible for the protection of our archaeological monuments under the National Monuments Act 1930-2004.

Who owns the sites and monuments?

A small proportion of our national monuments are in state ownership e.g. the Ceide Fields. Other than that, monuments are protected by the National Monuments Act; even though they may be on private land e.g. ringforts, souterrains, and megalithic tombs. These monuments must not be interfered with without the prior consent of the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government.

What is an Archaeological Excavation License?

Archaeological excavation is a scientific process which involves extracting archaeological evidence from the ground, analysing and interpreting that evidence so that we can get a clear picture of past human activity. As such, a lot of expertise is required in directing these excavations, and therefore any archaeological excavations must be carried out under an excavation license issued by the Minister for Environment, Heritage and Local Government, to a person who is deemed qualified by the department.

What is the Record of Monuments and Places?

The RMP is an inventory of sites with known locations that are protected under the National Monuments Acts. This record consists of a set of 6” maps for the county in question, which has an accompanying index showing the monuments and their areas of archaeological constraint. This map and index can be viewed in the County Libraries and planning offices.

What should I do if I want to carry out work near a recorded monument?

Where an owner or any other person wishes to carry out work near or relating to a recorded monument, they are required to give the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government 2 months written notice of their intention, so that the National Monuments Service can decide how best to avoid any possible damage.

What should I do if I find an Archaeological Object?

Archaeological objects are, by law, the property of the Irish State. These are then deposited in the National Museum, Kildare St., Dublin 2. If you find an archaeological object, the Duty Officer in the  National Museum of Ireland should be contacted as soon as possible on 01 6777444.

How does archaeology affect my planning application?

Unless you are proposing to build in an area of archaeological sensitivity or close to a recorded monument, your planning application should not be affected. However, if your proposed site is archaeologically sensitive, you may receive a condition on your planning application which may require you to employ an archaeologist to carry out an archaeological impact assessment or to monitor the ground works.

How does archaeology affect REPS (Rural Environmental Protection Scheme)?

This scheme is designed to encourage farmers to carry out their farming activities in an environmentally friendly manner. With regard to archaeology, farmers are encouraged to avoid using heavy farm machinery close to monuments, to control the levels of stock grazing near monuments and to improve access and maintain monuments in good condition.

Where can I contact an archaeologist?

The National Monuments Section provides a list of licence eligible archaeologists. This is available from the National Monuments Service, Department of the Environment, Heritage and Local Government, Dun Sceine, Harcourt Lane, Dublin 2 (01-8882000 or lo-call 1890 20 20 21). Alternatively, the Golden Pages also lists commercial archaeologists, and most archaeology companies have websites with contact details.


These are some of the items found during recent excavations on the route of the N5 Charlestown Bypass.

Gold filligree found at Lowpark.

Fulacht Fiadh trough found at Sonnagh.

Ringed pin found at Lowpark.

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