Do you ever wonder what lay beneath the ground you walk on? Do you ever question why that ditch was straight or what was once built on top of that hill? Maybe or maybe not but without transforming into an ‘Indiana Jones’ type character you can explore such question in true adventurers style if you’ve got the imagination and the information.

You don’t need to be a college professor of archaeology or indeed a swashbuckler like ‘Indy’ to find out where you belong.

Archaeology is the study of human activity. From an amateur perspective, it can be a fascinating hobby, not only for adults with an interest in the past, but also for young people who want to learn more about local history and possibly develop a future career.

Although hundreds of archaeological sites lay on Donegal farmland many are now difficult to see on the surface. Good landowners are already protecting archaeological sites through responsible environmental stewardship but may not always know everything about what lies buried beneath the soil on their land. Greater awareness of archaeology rewards us all as well as conserving a precious resource for the future.

Now the Co. Donegal Heritage Office and the Donegal Co. Museum, Donegal Co. Council in association with the Co. Donegal Heritage Forum and The Heritage Council have an answer to all that. They will be hosting a free seminar on the archaeological heritage of Co. Donegal in the Regional Cultural Centre, Port Road, Letterkenny between 9am and 2pm on Saturday, June 14 and you are invited to attend.

“The archaeological heritage of County Donegal gives us an insight into past societies and ways-of-life,” explained Joseph Gallagher, Donegal Co.  Council’s Heritage Officer.

“Our archaeological heritage also provides part of the fabric of our cultural landscapes and helps to tell the story of our county. Aspects of our archaeological heritage have been lost in recent years whether through lack of awareness, neglect, destruction, insensitive development, landscape change, weathering or erosion.

“All efforts to conserve our archaeological heritage must be mindful of our obligations under the National Monuments Acts and follow the principles of best conservation practice. Below ground, above ground and underwater, our archaeological heritage invokes discovery, requires care, warrants protection, enriches culture and informs society.”

Most of the 3,400 known archaeological monuments in County Donegal on the Record of Monuments and Places protected under the National Monuments Acts (1930-2004) are in private ownership.

The aims of this free seminar are to raise awareness of Donegal's archaeological heritage, outline the statutory protection afforded archaeological monuments and objects, provide advice to, and highlight the role of, landowners and communities in caring for and conserving our archaeological heritage, and promote best practice in the management of archaeological heritage sites and objects.

The event is aimed at landowners, heritage groups, historical societies, community groups, ‘Tidy Towns’ committees, farmers, archaeologists, planners, engineers, architects, local authority staff and anyone who has an interest in our archaeological heritage.

Guest speakers at the free seminar will include: Pauline Gleeson, Senior Archaeologist, National Monuments Service, Department of Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht who will outline the protection afforded archaeological monuments and requirements under the National Monuments Acts; Eamonn Kelly, Keeper of Irish Antiquities, National Museum of Ireland who will discuss the role of the National Museum as regards the preservation and conservation of archaeological artefacts and advise on what to do if you discover an archaeological object; Connie Kelleher, Underwater Archaeology Unit, National Monuments Service, Department of Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht who will give a presentation on the underwater archaeology (such as shipwrecks) off the Donegal coast and how best to protect and manage our underwater cultural heritage; Ian Doyle, Head of Conservation, The Heritage Council who will talk about the role of community engagement with our archaeological heritage and the support provided by The Heritage Council and  Judith McCarthy, Curator and Caroline Carr, Assistant Curator, Do. County Museum, Donegal Co. Council who will discuss the role of the Donegal Co. Museum in collecting, preserving, recording and displaying our archaeological heritage.

There will be short accounts of archaeological heritage initiatives by local community groups interspersed with the main presentations including Paula Harvey on Doon Fort, Bríd Ward on the Franciscan Friary in Ballysaggart and Marius Ó hEarcáin and Patricia Stratford on Carrickabraghy Castle in Inishowen.

The free seminar will conclude with an open questions-and-answers session with the guest speakers. The seminar is an action of the Co. Donegal Heritage Plan and is funded by Donegal Co. Council and The Heritage Council.

The seminar is also open to everyone but places are limited so early booking is advised. If you would like to book a place at the ‘Lost and Found’ seminar, contact the Donegal Co. Museum on (074) 912 4613 or by e-mail at [email protected]

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