Final thoughts

Over the years humans have utilised the surrounding landscape for their own ends. They chose certain locations if they fulfilled particular criteria. For example the earliest settlers tended to adapt and build on the marginal areas of the dense forests at elevated angles. Gradually when the early farmers arrive during the Neolithic period they moved inland and began to cultivate.

Natural landscapes have always existed independently from humans. They are a process of biological, climatic and geological activity. However in Ireland, like many other settled countries, over time humans have sought by choice of necessity to modify this natural landscape. This action forged a relationship between man and nature that has only strengthened as time progresses.

The landscape is then described as 'cultural' and needs to be examined in the context of history and indeed prehistory. Man settled in communities and continued to adapt the landscape to suit his purpose. To understand the whole process, it is necessary to examine the past as well as the present. Each generation brings change to the cultural landscape of an area.

There are two main definitions relating to the environment, one is phenomenal and the other is behavioural. The phenomenal definition describes the entirety of the environment, it is all encompassing and no one individual can experience this. Instead we experience the behavioural environment, meaning our own particular area, in this case Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown.

'Landscape is a part of this behavioural environment. It is not a natural phenomenon, but a section of the natural environment defined and agreed upon by a community (Parry, Christoph 'Peter Handke's landscapes of discourse, an exploration of narrative and cultural space', California, 2003)

Individual elements combine to make up the landscape and several of these have been examined in this narrative including megalithic monuments, crosses, churches, castles, Martello towers, bridges, harbours and sculptures. Not only these elements but also their location is important.

Early settlers built monuments on hilltop locations and did not impinge on the dense forestry in the country. Gradually this changed as farming and other processes were begun. In the case of Martello towers necessity dictated they were built in a good defensive location providing a vantage point in case of attack. Location is vital in providing a complete understanding of the landscape.

The information provided by the physical elements of the landscape help our understanding of the history and development in Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown

Heritage belongs to everyone and it is passed down through the generations. From it we learn about our ancestors and their lifestyles and we learn a little about ourselves through this process. Development is a part of life, but should not be undertaken at the expense of out heritage. Somehow the two must co-exist within the landscape.

Many of the monuments around the area have vastly different surroundings than when they were constructed. Often they have been subjected to weathering, vandalism or just the ravages of time.

Regardless of their condition they remain a constant reminder of our history, shared humanity and heritage. They should be treasured as such so that they will remain for future generations too.

Physical landscape has many definitions and many people have offered opinions about the various aspects of it. One thing we should all agree on is its importance.

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