Thursday, August 26, 2021

FRESH findings are expected to be announced by the National Monuments underwater unit following further exploration of Creadan Head. This, combined with the threat posed to the area by climate/tidal action and coastal erosion poses to the area, suggests that now is the ideal time to fully reveal the significance of this remarkable Mesolithic site.

As part of Heritage Week, an online event held last Thursday led to lively discussion about of Creadan Head and the discoveries which are set to prove that prehistoric settlement of the Waterford Estuary began 10,000 years ago.

Welcoming the audience to Creadan/Waterford Estuary steering Group’s first online presentation, Steering Group Chair Joy Rooney said the event was in partnership with Waterford Institute of Technology, Waterford Chamber of Commerce and the Heritage Council of Ireland.

The Steering Group was established through the work of the late Noel McDonagh, and is led by WIT researchers.

The project is building on over 40 years of local and internationally recognised research work, with collaborative citizen-based actions supporting the project.

The work includes reviewing the McDonagh collection, discovering new evidence and decimating findings to local and global communities.

The group also works with Waterford City & County Council on protecting and conserving existing verifications, with evidence suggesting that it is one of the “earliest human inhabitation sites in Ireland,” said Joy.

Dr Seamus Dillon said the extent of the Creadan project indicates that the settlement of this area goes back 10,000 years. “That in itself is a phenomenal fact,” he said, “Creadan could be the earliest entry point to Ireland.”

Therefore, Dr Suzanne Denieffe, Head of the School of Humanities, said WIT will be making a submission to the Waterford City & County Development Plan to progress with the Creadan Project. Due to its coastal location, tidal action and the increasing severity of storms the area is at risk of erosion, which could lead to the loss of the unique archaeological heritage.

It is timely that we take action to protect, conserve and consolidate our scientific understandings of the pre-history of the South East of Ireland and protect them and this knowledge for future generations,” she said.

A short film produced by NemetonTV titled ‘Creadan: a Sense of Place’, capturing the essence of the remarkable Mesolithic site, was revealed to the audience. It featured interviews with archaeologists, geologists, ecologists and local story tellers who have been investigating, “the unique traces left by Ireland’s first settlers 10,000 years ago on Creadan Head,” Dr Moira Sweeney said.

During the film, Professor Stanton Green outlined his and Professor Marek Zvelebil’s work in the Ballylough Project around Belle Lake. Over a 12-year period they carefully recorded 250 field sites to unearth thousands of prehistoric artefacts, some of which date as early as 10,000 years ago.

At the same time citizen archaeologist Noel McDonagh was carrying out his own ground-breaking field work colleting stone artifacts at Creadan Head. He ultimately uncovered thousands of prehistoric artifacts, some of which have been dated to the Mesolithic era.

In 2018, Noel joined with Professor Stan Green and colleagues to complete a further study of Creadan. Professor Green said his goal is to collate the information from both projects to form a complete archaeological history from 10,000 years ago, and to utilise that as the basis for making Waterford and the South East an eco-tourist destination.

Meanwhile, Local Historian Ray McGrath acknowledged the work of Noel by saying he was the “foremost and persistent pursuer of the past especially of the Mesolithic age”.

According to Ray, Noel’s discovery of a fulacht fiadh shortly before he died was a “wonderful contribution” and brings forward the question of citizen science and the role of ordinary people in recording local history.

Contributions were also made on the significance of Creadan by Jacinta Kiely, Dr Bill Sheppard, Karin Dubsky and Dr Joseph Shuldenrein.

Meanwhile, Dr Mark White, WIT’s Vice-President for Research, Innovation & Graduate Studies highlighted how the National Monuments Service underwater unit have just competed exploration of some of area around Creadan Head and he understands that some new findings will be emerging in the coming weeks and months.

He urged the entire community to support the protection of sites like Creadan Head, which is under threat from erosion, tidal forces and climate change.

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