Bord na Móna is currently in the midst of a new three-year campaign involving preservation by record of archaeological and palaeoenvironmental investigations in the peatlands of Ireland.
From 2014-17, the Irish Archaeological Consultancy Ltd. (IAC) will be working with Charles Mount, Bord na Móna’s Project Archaeologist, on 100 sites in counties Longford, Offaly, Roscommon and Westmeath at the following 10 bogs: Clooneeny, Lough Bannow, Cloonshannagh, Castletown, Clonad, Daingean South, Kinnegad, Cornafulla, Cloncreen and Toar.
The Irish peatlands, because of their waterlogged anaerobic environment, are an internationally important repository of archaeological sites and artefacts as well as ancient environmental and climatic biofacts.
The IAC is working with Bord na Móna to preserve evidence ranging from human remains, settlements and trackways and platforms to food and artefacts, plants, pollen, insects, amoeba and even the fallout from ancient volcanic eruptions.
This process involves the use of earlier surveys to locate GPS coordinates and investigate carefully marked sites. The IAC’s archaeologists work outdoors throughout the summer and autumn months to identify the best places to open excavation cuttings.
Work uncovered various trackways and platforms that range in date from the Neolithic to the medieval period and are visible at various depths in the faces of the drains and sometimes on the surface. A Medieval leather moccasin shoe was discovered by a member of the IAC’s team, which will be conserved, analysed and sent to The National Museum of Ireland for permanent curation.
Archaeological surveys of the peatlands in the ownership of Bord na Móna has been carried out over a number of years, as the company has a responsibility to organise and finance the archaeological investigation of its lands in advance of peat harvesting. This survey was conducted under the auspices of the Archaeological Survey of Ireland and funded by the Department of the Environment, Heritage and Local Government. Reassessment survey and the excavation of archaeological monuments that have been carried out for Bord na Móna are funded by the company.
Sites and structures of archaeological interest, discovered through such survey, are either preserved in situ or excavated and reported under a Code of Practice agreed in 2012 between the Department of Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht, The National Museum of Ireland and Bord na Móna.