Government urged to commit to full excavation of archaeological site


THE GOVERNMENT should commit to a full excavation of an archaeological site in Waterford that shows early Christian and later Viking age occupation, a conference has heard.

The site of Woodstown, which straddles the south bank of the river Suir at Co Waterford, was discovered some years ago during test excavations carried out prior to the construction of the N25 Waterford City bypass.

Dr Colmán Etchingham, a lecturer of medieval history at the NUI-Maynooth, who chaired the final session of the conference yesterday, said that the site would not have been saved but for the work of the Save Viking Waterford Action Group.

Dr Etchingham said that Government policy would have otherwise “allowed the road to run through the site”.

“The conference has shown that less than 5 per cent of the site has been subject to archaeological investment to date.

“What has been found is wonderful but it is tantamount to glimpses of what could be there.” Dr Etchingham said that the site is “one of the most important” sites to be found anywhere in western Europe.

“Public investment in excavation would provide jobs in the region and would help tourism in the area,” he added.

The site should be excavated over a long period of time to a high standard, he said.

More than 200 people attended the conference, entitled Viking Woodstown and Hiberno-Norse Waterford: their place in the Viking World, held over three days at the Theatre Royal in Waterford.

The opening of the conference coincided with the official opening of a new permanent exhibition at the Waterford Museum of Treasures of finds from the historical Woodstown site.

The conference ended with a visit to the Woodstown site yesterday afternoon.