01: Wood Quay
One of the most intense campaigns of public outcry on the subject of archaeological heritage in the history of the state.
The campaign to preserve the site of Viking settlement at Wood Quay, Dublin began in 1976, headed by Professor F.X. Martin, Chairman of the Friends of Medieval Dublin. In 1978 the High Court declared the area a National Monument, but Dublin Corporation who owned the land, used a loophole in the law to allow them to build new civic offices on the site.
Professor F.X. Martin along with others such as Mary Robinson continued the fight to 'Save Wood Quay' and to preserve the substantial archaeological remains on the site. The struggle involved years of protests, sit-ins and litigation. Protesters sought to have the Wood Quay Viking settlement preserved and for Dublin Corporation to build the new civic offices in an alternative location. As the National Museum carried out excavations on the site, construction work took place. In the end Dublin Corporation won the battle and in 1981 work began on the civic offices and archaeological excavations ended.
The 'Save Wood Quay' campaign was one of the most intense mobilisations of public opposition on a subject of cultural heritage in the history of the state. Presented here is some of the television and radio coverage of the key events that took place at Wood Quay, including the initial plans for the site, the protests and legal battles, the legacy of the campaign and the archaeological finds.
Archaeological excavations and discoveries allow us to build a picture of past lives and as the excavations were carried out it became more and more apparent of the historical significance of the Wood Quay site as physical evidence of Viking life in Dublin.
The accompanying photograph was taken during the filming of the RTÉ Television documentary 'The Search for Viking Dublin', which was shown as part of the station's series 'Anthology' on 10 November 1969. © RTÉ Archives 2052/002