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Available under a Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial Share Alike 4.0 International Licence


Interdisciplinary, 6. HUMANITIES, Archaeology

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Visualising Skyscapes: Material Forms of Cultural Engagement with the Heavens, edited by Liz Henty and Daniel Brown, London and New York: Routledge.


This paper presents the first ever study of light pollution at selected Irish prehistoric archaeological landscapes. The concepts of cosmology and landscape are first briefly described and followed by a summary of early human settlement of the island. Building on this, the extant corpus of early prehistoric megalithic burial tombs is illustrated to show their contrasting distribution patterns and typology. Analysis of tomb locations using nearest-neighbour statistical methods reveals evidence of intentional clustering. Further geo-statistical analysis identifies the geographical locations and the density ranking of these nucleated clusters - a feature especially evident in the passage tomb tradition on this island and a proxy for the archaeological landscapes of interest discussed here. These data are mapped onto a light-at-night radiance map compiled from high-resolution satellite-borne infrared sensors. This technology allows an island-wide preliminary assessment of the threat from light pollution at ten identified passage tomb landscapes. One is examined in more detail - the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Brú na Bóinne in the Boyne Valley, Co. Meath. Consistent with the new approaches pursued by scholars of cultural astronomy, the findings are used to leverage interpretative cultural meaning from the data. Finally, conservation and legal remedial actions are suggested so as to offer a template methodology for use at any heritage site/landscape similarly threatened.


Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-Share Alike 4.0 International License.