Topic ID #25774 - posted 12/20/2012 5:31 AM

Achill Archaeological Field School - Ireland

Achill Field School

The Achill Archaeological Field School was established in 1991 with the specific aim to provide training for students of archaeology and anthropology and, after 21 years, this remains at the center of everything we do. Located at the western end of Ireland’s largest offshore island, we are surrounded by mountains, bogs, cliffs and stunning seascapes and this amazing natural landscape forms the backdrop for our on-going research into the archaeology of an island community on the edge of the Atlantic Ocean.

The field school offers a wide range of courses from April to September each year - these include introductory and specialist courses, but our most popular general courses run from May to August and consist of 2-, 4- and 6-week modular courses that come with three, six and nine Semester Credits respectively - this credit is provided through our long-standing relationship with the National University of Ireland, Galway. The key to our training is a small group size, combined with instruction that is delivered directly by highly experienced archaeologists. In this way we ensure that each lesson is delivered in great detail and we keep working with a student until we are sure everything has been understood correctly. Students are involved in all aspects of site work, beginning with taking off the topsoil, moving through the different phases of excavation and recording and finally backfilling the area and reinstating the ground at the end of the excavation. We teach excavation techniques, recording processes, artefact care and site photography and we also take the time to discuss the excavation strategy with the students so that they understand the choices that have been made. At the end of the course our students have a thorough understanding of excavation methodology that we feel will form a very sound foundation for a career in archaeology and associated fieldwork. The on-site work is complemented by a day-long field trip every week to explore the fascinating archaeological landscape of Achill. Through these field trips we introduce the process of landscape analysis that archaeologists undertake, and teach our students to open their eyes and read the history of the landscapes around them.

In 2013, we shall be returning to the deserted village at Slievemore where we plan to excavate an abandoned house of early modern date and a number of adjacent features, some of which may be prehistoric in date. We also hope to begin an excavation at Kildavnet Castle at the southern end of Achill Island – this late medieval tower house is the only castle on Achill and should provide us with a fascinating insight into life in the region in the late medieval period. Self-catering accommodation and local transport is included in our course fees, and Achill Island offers a great variety of weekend activities including hill walking, swimming, surfing, kite surfing, horse riding and cycling.

Self-catering (sharing) accommodation and local transport is included in the cost of each course - We accommodate our students in our own accommodation building on a self-catering basis and we also have a computer suite, library, lecture room and artefact-processing facilities in our administrative building.

Visit our website or email us for more information about Achill, our research programme, our accommodation and our courses:


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