The term 'archaeology' is a broad term that includes archaeological sites, artefacts, and field monuments. There are many well-known examples in the form of castles, tower houses, ringforts and hillforts, raths, cashels, mounds, dolmens, cairns and stone circles, and others that may occur largely below the surface and subsequently are less well known and less visible.
A 'monument', as defined in the Section 11 of the National Monuments (Amendment) Act 1987, means any artificial or partly artificial building, structure, or erection of such buildings, structures or erections. Also any cave, stone, or other natural product, whether or not forming part of the ground, that has been artificially carved, sculptured or worked upon or which appears to have been purposely put or arranged in position. It also includes any, or part of any prehistoric or ancient tomb, grave or burial deposit, or ritual, industrial or habitation site. A monument also includes any place comprising the remains or traces of any such building, structure or erection, any such cave, stone or any natural product, or any such tomb, grave or burial deposit, but does not include any building that is for the time being habitually used for ecclesiastical purposes.
Many archaeological monuments or sites live below the surface of the ground and have no surviving features above ground level. Such sites may have been marked on early maps, be visible as 'crop-marks' from the air or may be discovered by the use of geophysical surveying techniques. Valuable archaeological evidence still remains on such sites and can be recovered by archaeological excavation.
A 'national monument' is defined in the National Monuments Acts (1930-2004) as a monument or the remains of a monument, the preservation of which is of national importance by reason of the historical, archaeological, traditional, artistic or architectural interest.
For more information on archaeology, visit the National Monuments Service website from the Department of Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht.
To view archaeological sites in Co. Wicklow, visit the Archaeological Survey of Ireland database.