Topic ID #41834 - posted 11/21/2019 7:30 AM

Roncesvalles Ossuary Field School

Aditu Arkeologia


The 2020 Aditu Archaeological Field School is a research project investigating the origins of the medieval ossuary located at Roncesvalles (Northern Navarre, Spain) just a few miles from the French border. The purpose of the project is to investigate what is rumoured to be the burial site of the rearguard of Charlemagne’s army, ambushed in the Battle of Roncesvalles and immortalised in the medieval French work “La Chanson de Roland.” In addition to its historical significance, the location has long been an important rest stop for pilgrims hiking the Camino de Santiago from France, as it represents the traditional first stop upon crossing the Pyrenees mountains and entering the Iberian peninsula.

The ossuary consists of one of the oldest structures that forms part of the religious complex of Roncesvalles. Historical sources, as well as previous interventions at the site, have attested to the long chronology of burials present within the ossuary, and this project anticipates being the most extensive excavation undertaken to date at the site.

In 2020 our aim is to better understand the history and importance of the structure through an excavation of the upper layers of the complex. The focus of the field school will be on ossuary excavation methodology and the analysis of commingled remains, and will be accompanied by lectures on human osteology, calculation of MNI, archaeological practice, Basque and medieval archaeology and relevant topics related to field methodology and finds processing.  The field school represents a rare opportunity to excavate a unique site of huge historical significance and gain insight into different types of field and laboratory methodologies within commingled contexts.

Students will spend 7-8 hours per day engaged in field work or in the processing of materials recovered from the field. Throughout the course, students will become proficient in excavation procedures, field drawing, documentation, and find processing and analysis.

Board and accommodation will be provided at the sanctuary, including self catering breakfast and lunch (ingredients provided), and a variety of dinners served at the site. All necessary facilities are provided (electricity, hot showers, dormitory accommodation). Students will be given 2 rest days in the middle of each session. Cost: 1750 euros.

Session dates: July 2-20 and July 24-August 12.

For applications and further info:


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