A new campaign aimed at raising awareness of Ireland’s archaeological monuments in the landscape among landowners has been launched by the National Monuments Service and the Department of Heritage.

The 'check before you dig' motto is particularly aimed at those planning to engage in land clearance and land reclamation.

As landowners seek to improve their land or change farming practice - for example, from grassland to tillage - they are being urged to check their property first to identify if there are any archaeological monuments present on the lands in question.

“This will protect the archaeological heritage and enable a greater understanding of the heritage that is all around us,” a spokesperson for the Department of Heritage said.


Anyone who is planning to carry out groundworks is being urged to check their property using an online map provided by the Department of Housing, Local Government and Heritage.

The historic environment viewer is a free-to-use online map that uses a digital database to display the known locations of archaeological sites and monuments. The map can be accessed here.

The campaign highlights that not all archaeological monuments are immediately recognisable in the landscape and that landowners, especially the farming community, are custodians of some of our most vulnerable sites.

Minister of State for heritage and electoral reform Malcolm Noonan said that the Irish countryside is exceptionally rich in archaeological monuments.

“We are rightly proud of their rate of survival, which is due in no small part to the role played by the custodians of these monuments for generations.

"We all have a role to play in ensuring the protection of our archaeological and architectural heritage and I encourage the use of the online tools provided by my Department to be informed about the monuments that surround us,” he said.

Preventing damage

National Monuments Service chief archaeologist Michael MacDonagh said: “The aim of this campaign is to prevent damage to archaeological sites and monuments, particularly during land reclamation.

“The National Monuments Service investigates cases of damage to monuments, such as ringforts and enclosures, arising from groundworks and we feel that sharing the details of our comprehensive online resource will help landowners to avoid any impacts on these sites.

“All recorded archaeological monuments are protected under the National Monuments Act 1930 to 2014 and further details on how to be in compliance with the law protecting monuments can be found at www.gov.ie/CheckBeforeYouDig,” he said.


Ireland has a rich archaeological heritage, with over 145,000 recorded archaeological monuments around the country in private and public ownership, representing human activity over a period of 10,000 years.

In a European context, the survival of monuments on farmland in Ireland, due to our historic farming practices, is especially unique.

These monuments include megalithic tombs, standing stones, barrows, rock art, ecclesiastical enclosures, churches, graveyards, ringforts, souterrains, enclosures, field systems, fulachta fiadh, castles and many more.