LOCALS IN DONABATE HAVE BEEN whipped into a frenzy of excitement as a farmer harrowing a local field exposed what may be an historical find dating back to the fifth century! Exclusive by Rose Barrett
The National Monuments Service carried out an inspection on the site at Corbalis, Donabate last week after reports of what appears to be a “souterrain” (an underground passage or chamber) dating to the Early Historic Period, circa sixth to twelfth centuries AD.
Local historian Peadar Bates, a member of Donabate-Portrane Historical Society went up to the site as word spread of the possible significant historical find.
“A renowned archaeologist was called and believes that writing videoed within the tunnel could possibly be Ogham writing dating from the fifth to tenth century. Even if it’s not as ancient as that, it’s still another important historical find for the area.”
Local man Eamonn Willeth went to the scene and climbed down into what initially appeared like a well. He crawled into a T shaped tunnel about 10-15ft long and was intrigued by some writing – possibly Ogham -which he videoed and photographed.
The site is the location of a Strategic Housing Development (SHD) application to An Bord Pleanála (ABP), strenuously opposed by the local community. Aledo Donabate Ltd is seeking 1,019 apartments and 346 houses, along with childcare facilities and a nature park.
A site at Corbalis, Donabate is once again rocketed into the limelight with what could be a significant historical find. The field, which was being harrowed by a farmer leasing the land from the owners, a development company which is currently awaiting the decision of an SHD application with An Bord Pleanála.
Labour Party Local Area Representative, Corina Johnston, was contacted by locals last week who were concerned that the find might be of historical significance. Along with Deputy Duncan Smith, they immediately contacted The National Monuments Service and Fingal County Council.
“We requested an urgent visit and an interim inspection of the site. I was most anxious that the entrance needs to be protected and closed off. The find is located on land that is subject to a current planning application with An Bord Pleanála and I have notified the latter of the recent happening at Corballis, which may have implications for application.”
The application proposes a total of 1,365 housing units, but Ms Johnston stated the community was opposed to the development which entails over 70% as apartments. This she felt, was not in keeping with the rural coastal community’s needs or planning.
Locals Eamonn Willeth and Joe Thompson were two of the first to arrive on site on learning of the ‘find’.
“The farmer’s harrow caught what the farmer thought was a stone, but it was the cap off the tunnel. It was whipped off, and almost caused the tractor to do a backward somersault!
“Initially, we thought it was a well but I returned later and climbed down into what appeared to be a T shaped tunnel, circa 10-15 ft. I crawled along the tunnel/s and there was some interesting writing on the ceiling so I made a video. There has been some excitement since, as experts believe it could be Ogham writing.”
Local historian Peadar Bates, a member of Donabate-Portrane Historical Society stated: “A renowned archaeologist was called and believes that the writing videoed by Eamonn could possibly be Ogham writing which dates from the fifth to tenth centuries. Even if it’s not as ancient as that, it’s still another important historical find for the area.”
The National Monuments Service carried out an inspection on the site last week after reports of what appears to be a “souterrain” (an underground passage or chamber) dating to the Early Historic Period, circa sixth to twelfth centuries AD.
A spokesperson for the National Monuments Service said: “The monument does not appear to be in immediate danger, but the NMS will of course liaise with relevant parties (including owners and, if appropriate, the planning authority) to ensure it receives appropriate protection. The discovery will be added to the national database of known archaeological monuments maintained by NMS.”
Mr Willeth noted there is a place about 80-100 metres away from the exposed chamber also on the archaeological map, possibly a historical find from 2007, when bone, charcoal and a copper object were recovered. This was later interpreted as an “enclosed settlement of the early medieval period.”
“When my sister stalled the video, the writing really looked like it could be Ogham,” he said
The exposed chamber was open on Tuesday and Wednesday, (July 12 and 13) but was covered over on Thursday 14 last.
Given the possible significance of this in historical terms and the fact that the site is the location of a live SHD application to An Bord Pleanála, Ms Johnston stated: “I believe, given the response from National Monuments Service, the entire site needs to be closed off, examined and preserved.”
Fingal County Council acknowledged it was made aware of the discovery in Donabate, but the matter is under the remit of the National Monuments Service.