I read about the new Google Earth skin on Jennifer Lockett’s blog http://jenniferlockett.wordpress.com/2011/05/05/google-earth-archaeological-heritage-map-of-ireland/ and decided to give it a try at the AIA webpage http://www.archaeological.org/news/aianews/ . Unfortunately the site states:“As you visit these sites, remember that each year hundreds of irreplaceable archaeological sites are destroyed by unrestrained development, looting, the vagaries of war, and environmental changes”. Whatever about the “unrestrained development”, Ireland hasn’t been at war for nearly 90 years and is one of the most peaceful places in the world. I hope this misplaced rhetoric won’t discourage any visitors to Ireland.
Laying that aside this is a useful Google Earth skin that looks forward to the exciting ways that Google Earth can be used to present cultural heritage to the public. I’ve been using it to generate distribution maps for a book I’m working on. The data downloaded to my computer very quickly and without fuss. Clicking on a site name in the places menu brings you smartly to the site you want and a cleverly designed window opens providing you information on the site. Clicking on learn more brings you to a window from Heritage Ireland.ie that provides copious information on getting to the site, opening hours, length of visit, admissions fees etc. This section is also usefully provided in seven European languages. This type of user friendly application is what the Irish Archaeological Survey should be moving towards and a comparison with the Sites and Monuments Database http://www.archaeology.ie/smrmapviewer/mapviewer.aspx (which was not working when I tried to access it for this review) is revealing. But the AIA Google Earth layer is not without its bugs. I found that the Passage Tomb cemetery at Loughcrew is marked in the wrong place, to the north-east of Wilkinstown, when it’s actually near Oldcastle many miles to the west (see the image above). But this shouldn’t detract from the usefulness of this application and the AIA is to be congratulated.
Mount, C. The Archaeological Institute of America Archaeological Heritage Map of Ireland on Google Earth? The Charles Mount Blog, May 18, 2011. http://charles-mount.ie/wp/?p=21