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Ireland Protects Bronze Age Fort

November 05, 1995

Officials in the Irish Republic are taking steps to curtail public access to Dun Aengus, one of Europe's most spectacular Bronze Age monuments.

According to the Times of London, up to 100,000 people a year visit the monument, which stands atop a 300-foot cliff on the southern side of Inishmore, one of the Aran Islands off the County Galway coast. During the summer, hundreds of people a day clamber over its walls, and locals say they have seen visitors throw stones from the fort to see how long it takes for them to hit the sea.

The Office of Public Works, which is responsible for maintaining heritage sites in the Irish Republic, is seeking planning permission to build a visitors' center to act as a "feeder" point for tourists. A spokesman in the Dublin office said approval is expected by year's end and that the new building will take about six months to complete.

Dun Aengus covers 14 acres and consists of three separate enclosures defended by stout walls. Archeologists believe it was built in the late Bronze Age around 2000 BC to house and protect wealthy farmers, and then remodeled in the Iron Age (500 BC to AD 500).

"It is important to maintain the site because it is certainly the most spectacular in Ireland," a public works official said.

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