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Illegal metal detectors damage 3,000-year-old wooden road

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The 3,000-year-old track in Coole was discovered in 2005

The 3,000-year-old track in Coole was discovered in 2005

The 3,000-year-old track in Coole was discovered in 2005

Illegal metal detectors have caused irreparable damage to a prehistoric road in the Midlands with Ireland's leading heritage charity calling on the Government to intervene to save the road.

An Taisce: The National Trust for Ireland has written to the Heritage Minister Heather Humphreys to request that the oakwood-built roadway, located on Mayne Bog in Coole, Co. Westmeath, be protected fully by the laws of the State.

Its Antiquities and Monuments committee has criticised the Minister for "standing idly by" and wants a licensed metal detector survey carried out along the route.

Dr Mark Clinton of An Taisce said that the area is of international importance and should be placed on the Record of Monuments and Places (RMP) list. Much of the 647-metre, 3,000-year-old wooden track has been dug up by workmen cutting peat.

The road was discovered by a man walking his dog in 2005.

"These pits would have been dug by illegal metal-detector operators - 45 'hits' could have equated with 45 ancient objects of antiquity," Dr Clinton said.

"How much longer is the Minister going to stand idly by while this monument of International importance is destroyed?"

A spokesperson for Ms Humphreys said that her position hasn't changed since March, when she said it would be difficult to preserve the road, given the peat, which had previously been there, was keeping it intact - though some of it, in an area of 'high bog' could still be preserved.

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