Topic ID #38100 - posted 2/23/2017 4:27 AM

Sligo Archaeological Summer School

Chris Read

The 2017 summer school will comprise two separate courses, each worth 6 ECTS credits, transferable to 3 semester hours/credits in the North American system. The first 2 week course will commence on the 15th of May and will combine lectures and guided fieldtrips to introduce students to the prehistoric and medieval archaeology of Ireland. Field trips will focus on the northwest of Ireland and counties Sligo, Roscommon and Leitrim and will include Carrowmore and Carrowkeel megalithic tomb cemeteries, the Caves of Keash, Queen Maeve's cairn and Knocknarea, Boyle and Fenagh Abbeys, the site of Spanish Armada wrecks at Streedagh Beach, Roscommon Castle and sites around the stunning Lough Arrow and Lough Key. The second course, also two weeks, will start on the 29th of May and involve joining Institute of Technology Sligo archaeology students on their annual training excavation at Moygara Castle, County Sligo, a 14-17th century castle linked historically to the O'Gara clan, medieval rulers of the area. This excavation has been running at a small scale since 2013 and will be expanded this year to fully investigate the hall uncovered in 2015.

The site of the current IT Sligo Applied Archaeology training excavation is at Moygara Castle, located in the south of County Sligo, overlooking Lough Gara. The subject of considerable historical research and architectural analysis, including geophysical survey, over the last decade, small scale archaeological excavation has been underway since 2013.

The castle is a multi period construction, comprising 4 walls, 4 corner towers, the remains of a gatehouse, all from the 16/17th century and an earlier towerhouse (14th/15th century). Geophysical survey has revealed a number of anomalies both inside and outside the castle walls, including a pre castle, oval ditched enclosure, possibly contemporary with the towerhouse.

The castle is linked with the O'Gara clan, rulers of the area during much of the medieval period, although their is debate as to whether the main parts of the castle, walls, towers and gatehouse were built by the O'Garas or their English enemies in the 16th/17th centuries. The castle was besieged and partially destroyed by Cromwell in the mid 17th century.

The excavation over the last 3 field seasons have revealed parts of the earlier oval ditched enclosure (awaiting C14 date) and a possible iron smelting furnace outside the castle walls in addition to a number of features inside, including the walls, cobbling and fireplace of a large hall constructed against the west internal wall. It is planned to fully expose this hall in the 2017 field season.

For more information about Moygara Castle, please visit

To the Summer School's Website go to:

For more information or to apply please contact Chris Read at


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