As part of the Farming Rathcroghan Project we are aiming to develop guidelines for farming grassland monuments. Until these are published, here are some things to keep in mind:
Some legal stuff
- Archaeological monuments are statutorily protected under the National Monuments Act (1930-2014) – this means that archaeological monuments must not be interfered with in any way, including the use of certain agricultural practices on or near the sites
- Removal or clearance of any archaeological monuments or features is strictly prohibited
- Works must not take place on or near an archaeological monument without prior statutory notification and/or consent. This includes works such as laying access trackways, fencing, signage, hedge-planting etc.
- More information on the protection of archaeological monuments as well as notification and consent procedures, and the legislative framework is available here: https://www.archaeology.ie/monument-protection
- Graze your monument with light stock or sheep if possible. As a general rule the heavier the stock, the more the damage they will cause, particularly in wet weather. If you have weanlings, or even yearlings on your farm, these are ideal for grazing monuments. In the same vein, the lighter footfall of sheep might help minimise damage to archaeology.
- Protect the grass cover of your monument, it acts as a protective layer for the underlying archaeology, prevents further damage and helps to bind the surface of monument together (particularly on steep flanks or slopes).
- Graze the monument in dry conditions. If it suits your farming style, consider using precision or strip grazing and only letting cattle onto the monument during good, dry ground conditions.
- Graze the monument briefly and only for as long as is necessary to prevent overgrown grass.
- Consider spreading slurry with umbilical system to limit machinery traffic on/around your archaeology – particularly so in wet conditions.
- Enjoy having a piece of history on your land, it is part of what makes it special!
- Don’t graze your monument in wet conditions, particularly if using heavy stock on the land and if there is already visible damage to the archaeology (e.g. exposed soil, loose stones etc).
- Don’t drive on your archaeology – heavy farm machinery will cause damage to the ground beneath in all but the very driest of conditions (which we are rarely blessed with here in the West). If you absolutely have to drive over or near archaeology, use of light machinery is strongly encouraged, avoid the use of trailers or additional loads and don’t overfill your tyres with air. Floatation tyres are ideal if available
- Don’t dig into your monument or disturb the soil underneath, without notifying or applying for consent from the National Monument Service in advance.
- If you have a long, or unusually shaped monument, don’t plant hedges, drive fencing, build stonewalls, build farm roads over it, or other invasive works without prior consent from the National Monument Service.