Swords resident Sylvia Maxwell is among many locals outraged at the quick removal and cover up of two medieval wells found on the site to host the new Swords Cultural Quarter.
To display her anger and disbelief that Fingal County Council covered over the wells hastily – before any communications with either local heritage experts or local councillors – Ms Maxwell is organising a wake on Monday next to highlight the “destruction” of the wells.
“At 7pm on Monday October 9 at the site of the new SCQ, we are holding a candle lit wake to highlight the destruction of our local heritage at the hands of Fingal County Council,” said Ms Maxwell. “The destruction of our local heritage must stop!”
Cllr Ann Graves (SF) welcomed the find in late August and noted the excellent condition of one well, which appeared to be in good working order and filling with water. But she was furious and utterly flabbergasted along with local heritage groups, historians and Tidy Towns, etc that there was no consultation with local elected representatives or relative interested parties.
Discovered during excavations prior to the commencement of works for the new cultural quarter, Cllr Graves wrote to Fingal County Council when she learnt of the well discoveries behind the Courthouse.
“I was so excited as the well was in perfect working order and filling with water. I really thought this could be a feature within the new Swords CQ as part of our historical past and our culture. I couldn’t believe it was covered up! So much for learning from mistakes in the past.”
Fingal County Council advised the Gazette that following archaeological investigations, one of the wells was confirmed as dating back to medieval times, and therefore from the fifth to eighth centuries. Stating the consultant team were charged assessing the possibility of preserving the well, in advance of the laying of foundations of the cultural quarter buildings, FCC stated a full report would be supplied from the archaeologists.
However, no such report was supplied to local councillors, nor to any relevant stakeholders. At the first council meeting in September after the summer break, FCC apologised re the lack of consultation, and blamed the oversight on the summer holiday break.
“This was the first time we were officially notified of the existence of the two wells. We were told the stones from both had been removed, numbered and stored by FCC with a view to incorporating them into the new SCQ, all overseen and agreed by the county archaeologist but kept secret from us!”
Cllr Graves stated she was aware of a map from 1829/34 which showed the structures so she could not understand why FCC were surprised at the existence of the wells.
“Now the well beds lie under concrete; as they were 2.5m in height and width, they couldn’t be incorporated into the building without a redesign. Shame that an historical find was deemed to be in the way of a modern facility acknowledging our cultural and past!”
Cllr Graves will submit a motion next week calling on the council to ensure that this cannot happen again, and that all relevant stakeholders including local councillors would be advised of historical finds.
The wake for the Swords wells will be held on the site of the new SCQ at 7pm on Monday next. All welcome to attend and bring a candle to light.
“I’m disappointed but on a happier note,” said Cllr Graves. “FCC will include the wells in the new cultural quarter in a different area and I’ve asked that local interest groups be included. FCC apologised re the lack of consultation, as it was during holiday period etc. “
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