Trouble in store for ancient artefacts from digs across Northern Ireland
Up to 1.4 million archaeological treasures and records from digs across Northern Ireland are being stored in unsuitable conditions, Environment Minister Mark H Durkan has been warned.
Archaeologists say Northern Ireland is the only part of the UK and Ireland where the governments have made no provision for artefacts and records to be stored after they are excavated.
Instead, some commercial archaeological companies are being left to store tens of thousands of artefacts excavated over the past 15 years, often at their own expense, according to the Institute of Archaeologists of Ireland (IAI).
IAI says because of Northern Ireland's unclear legislation, no one body is responsible for long-term preservation of a valuable and finite archaeological resource.
"This is a time bomb waiting to go off. If an archaeological company goes bankrupt, what is going to happen to all that material?" asked IAI spokesman Rob Lynch.