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Ardagh Hoard

The Oscail

The Oscail Project

Creating a common language to describe Ireland’s rich archaeological heritage.

The OSCAIL project was funded by Creative Ireland in October 2018 and was led by the Heritage Council and The Discovery Programme. Already it has proven to be hugely important for the long term documentation and archiving of Ireland’s rich archaeological heritage.

In this pilot project the Discovery Programme, in collaboration with the Irish Antiquities Division of the National Museum of Ireland (NMI). created a thesaurus for archaeological object terms. Until now an object thesaurus had not been used within the sector. The absence of a thesaurus was highlighted in a survey conducted by The Discovery Programme in 2014 as part of the EU funded ARIADNE project. The Creative Ireland/OSCAIL pilot project in the NMI is the first step towards redressing this problem. Ideally a thesaurus will provide indexing and retrieval support and will assist in the integration of archaeological databases to enable them to be made available as Link Open Data.

A seminar was hosted by the Discovery Programme and the Heritage Council in the Royal Irish Academy on 22 March 2019. The aim of the seminar was to initiate the process to make archaeological data available as Open Data. Speakers included representatives from the archaeology, digital, archives and cultural heritage sectors. Common challenges identified included

  • the absence of agreed thesauri,
  • a need to devise an appraisal policy for the retention of archival material,
  • conservation of paper and digital archives,
  • training creators of archives in relation to metadata and appraisal,
  • lack of resources and the absence of  long-term commitment to accomplish a proper national digital strategy for cultural heritage,
  • the need to continue the dialogue and to highlight the need for a long-term, well-informed and resourced strategy that would unlock the potential of Irish archaeological archives to various audiences.

A series of four podcasts was produced to illustrate the link between archaeological objects and the information about them that is contained in various archives. The discovery details of some of Ireland’s best known archaeological treasures including the Ardagh Hoard, the Tara Brooch and the Inisfallen (or River Laune) Crozier are explored. The podcasts were launched in June 2019 and are available on the Creative Ireland and Discovery Programme websites. These will become an educational resource for the many schools that visit the National Museum of Ireland and other museums throughout the country.

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