Mars Project: Press Statement


The Millmount Archaeological Remote Sensing (MARS) Project

A new project is getting underway in Drogheda which aims to use the latest technologies to explore the archaeology of the well-known landmark at Millmount. Archaeologist Dr Conor Brady of the Humanities and Social Sciences Research Centre and archaeological geophysicist Kevin Barton of Landscape and Geophysical Services are teaming up with the Old Drogheda Society and Drogheda Museum Millmount to try to answer some of the long-standing questions about this famous monument. Millmount was the castle for Drogheda when the town was founded in the late 12th century by Hugh de Lacy. However, there is a strong folklore tradition that the mound is the burial place of Amhairgin, a mythological figure credited with introducing song and poetry to Ireland. This tradition may indicate that the mound is earlier than the 12th century and that it could also be a burial place. If this is the case, the possibility is that it may be a passage tomb given that one of the most important passage tomb cemeteries lies a few kilometres upstream along the Boyne at the Brú na Bóinne World Heritage Site. It is noteworthy that the question of the possible prehistoric origins of the mound at Millmount was highlighted in 2009 in the Brú na Bóinne Research Framework issued by the Heritage Council.

A programme of non-invasive geophysical survey is planned to take place over the next six months and has been designed to gather information on a number of questions relating to the history and development of this important archaeological complex. A number of geophysical techniques will be used including ground penetrating radar, electrical resistivity tomography, seismic tomography and possibly microgravity, which was recently used in a pioneering study at the great passage tomb of Newgrange. The team will also be making use of up-to-date aerial photography, satellite imagery and LiDAR (Light Detection and Ranging) data for the area which was gathered by the Office of Public Works for flood relief planning. This provides a highly detailed topographical model of the landscape around Millmount and will serve as the basis for the analysis and presentation of the geophysical results.

As the steep profile of the mound of Millmount presents some unique challenges for carrying out geophysical survey, the services of the Civil Defence have been secured in order to carry out the surveys in as safe a manner as possible. The proposed research programme was launched at a lecture for the Old Drogheda Society during Heritage Week 2013 in Millmount in Drogheda which was very well attended and generated much interest. We hope that preliminary results will come available as the survey progresses over the coming weeks and months which might allow us to get an early glimpse of the secrets within the great mound. Dr Conor Brady said:

“This is a most interesting project with huge potential for new information about the great mound of Millmount to be discovered. It fits very well with recent research that has been carried out in the Brú na Bóinne WHS, especially that at Newgrange and the Hill of Slane. The Old Drogheda Society are to be applauded for initiating this exciting project.”

There will be a press and public opportunity at Millmount to see the survey team in action and to take photographs etc between 3.00 and 4.00pm on
Saturday 23rd November 2013

Project Partners

The Old Drogheda Society was founded in 1964 and is one of Ireland’s premier local history societies with a constant programme of often innovative activities and an excellent record of publication including the highly-regarded annual Journal of The Old Drogheda Society. The Society founded the Drogheda Museum in the Millmount fort complex in 1974 and this month (Nov 2013) the Museum celebrates the achievement of Full Accreditation Status under the Museum Standards Programme Ireland (MSPI). Drogheda Museum Millmount is the first voluntary-run and Community Employment-staffed museum to achieve this status.

Landscape and Geophysical Services (LGS) has been active in archaeological geophysics in Ireland and abroad for over 20 years. In the 1990’s, funded by the Heritage Council, Kevin Barton and colleagues at University College Galway carried out Ireland’s first intensive, multi-method archaeological geophysical survey in the Rathcroghan Complex in Co. Roscommon. LGS is involved in a number of innovative commercial and community archaeological projects, is currently a member of the General Management Board of the ArchaeoLandscapes Europe project and a partner in the Brú na Bóinne Remote Sensing Project.

Dundalk Institute of Technology is the leading education and research institution in the north-east. DkIT has been active in archaeological research through its Humanities and Social Sciences Research Centre member, Dr Conor Brady who has directed such projects as the Brú na Bóinne  Lithic Scatters Project, the Rossnaree Excavation Project, the Hill of Slane Archaeological Project as well as significant collaborating in new geophysical survey projects at the mound of Newgrange and the Brú na Bóinne Remote Sensing Project.

Louth and Monaghan Civil Defence are experienced in the deployment of equipment in difficult terrain and are pleased to be involve with the Millmount Archaeological Remote Sensing Project. The opportunity to use our skills and experience in working with the ground penetrating radar equipment is appreciated. We hope our experience will aid the project in investigating Millmount.

For further information, please contact Liam Reilly 041 9833097
(Old Drogheda Society/Drogheda Museum Millmount)

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