ARCHAEOLOGISTS who discovered a new passage tomb near Newgrange want it declared a national monument.
Using light detection and ranging imaging known as LiDar, an underground passageway and several other previously undetected features have been discovered near the river Boyne, Co Meath, on private land south-west of Newgrange.
The LiDar imagery showed a mound with a circular enclosure, while further work involving new technologies, known as magnetic radiometry and resistivity, unveiled a definite passage, leading northeast out of the newly discovered tomb.
It is the first discovery to be made without any archaeological digging, instead being found through use of LiDar and other "ground-probing techniques." The archaeologists who made the discovery, led by Kevin Barton, are calling on the Minister for Heritage, Jimmy Deenihan, to declare the site a national monument.
Because the new discovery is on private ground, the team of archaeologists need the Minister to do this as without Government designations, an excavation would be impossible.
In order to fully understand the results of the LiDar study, which was performed in and around the Bru Na Boinne UNESCO Heritage site, archaeologists feel a fully comprehensive excavation would be necessary.
Activist group 'Save Newgrange' are backing the archaeologists' request to the minister, as well as requesting that Meath County Council include the new findings in the Management Plan for the World Heritage Site. Vincent Salafia, spokesperson with Save Newgrange, says that there is an obligation to allow an excavation of the site, as well as a council obligation to include findings in the management plan.
"With this exciting discovery, the onus is on the Minister to obey the UNESCO World Heritage Convention and fully protect the site.
"The State is under a duty to fully investigate the entire World Heritage Site, and to give the monuments the highest legal protection possible, which is national monument designation under the National Monuments Act," he said.
The results of a full scale excavation could lead to an expansion of Newgrange and could halt any further plans for an N2 Bypass of the site, which would be critical if there were any more requests from local council to build the motorway.
In 2012, An Bord Pleanala refused an application for the bypass because of proximity to the monument. Local politicians, however, are still hoping to procure a bypass.