Fahan Heritage Group have been highly commended by National Monuments Service for the novel and innovative approaches taken to date to informing and developing the best conservation measures to meet the needs of St Mura’s Cross Slab.
On a recent visit to the old graveyard Dr Tracy Collins, Archaeologist and Pauline Gleeson, Senior Archaeologist from the National Monuments Service were joined by Dr John O’Keeffe, CEO of The Discovery Programme and his Technology Manager Anthony Corns.
Also present was Cormac Duffy from Access Heritage. They were welcomed by Fahan Heritage Group members John Deery, Kate Heaney, David Ferguson, Bernard Farren and Chairman Colm Toland.
Kate Robb from John Cronin Archaeologists updated all those present on the work that has taken place over the past four years.
Kate pointed out that several phases of works have taken place concerning the conservation of St Mura’s Cross Slab since 2018 and added that there is no doubt that the cross, like many other carved stone monuments throughout the country, is weathering, with climatic stressors accelerating tgis process in recent years.
This work has been fully supported and funded by Donegal County Council, The Heritage Council and the Department of Housing, Local Government and Heritage as well as by the generosity of the public at home and abroad.
“The latest phase of works saw the establishment of a bespoke monitoring programme by John Cronin and Associates to evaluate and data log the ‘lean’ of the Cross-Slab including cross-referencing findings with local rainfall and storm event data. It is anticipated that this important programme will closely track any change in the monument so that should any preventative interventions be required, that they can be enacted immediately to protect it,” Kate said.
She informed the gathering that stone decay specialist Dr Jason Bolton has also carefully assessed and cleaned dead lichen and plant growth from the Cross-Slab, with the artwork now much more apparent and appreciable when visiting the monument.
“Low winter sun and lighting conditions at this time of year make for particularly good conditions to pick out the carved stone detail with the naked eye,” she added.
There has also been an exciting new collaboration with The Discovery Programme which has meant that an updated very high-quality laser scan model of the Cross-Slab and its intricate carved artwork has also now been captured and can be used for future analysis purpose.
“The activism and valuable volunteered inputs by community heritage groups are driving important projects, such as that at St Mura’s Cross, on a nationwide level. The lasting result is that these monuments are protected and safe-guarded for future generations, to be enjoyed by locals and visitors alike.
“It is anticipated by statutory bodies that the learning that has been achieved from the St Mura’s Cross-Slab project can be applied at other sites and monuments throughout the country,” Ms Gleeson said.
Chairman Colm Toland speaking afterwards said it was great to get such praise for the work done to date.
“This year Fahan Heritage Group is adding another exciting development to its programme. We are developing a web based tour of the graveyard which will help the inhabitants of Inishowen and visitors alike to learn more and enjoy their heritage.
“If you would like to learn more about this, use you laptop or smart phone to see some tours of local attractions at https://access-heritage.com. If you would like to join Fahan Heritage Group and help us in this and other exciting developments, contact 086 8042886 or 086 834 3998 for information. Everyone is welcome,” he added.