Topic ID #41888 - posted 12/9/2019 10:28 AM

Dig a Castle! Medieval Archaeology Field School in Belgium


The Walhain-St-Paul Program is recruiting students for the 2020 season of Eastern Illinois University's Summer Archaeology in Belgium Program!  The field school is open to all undergraduate and graduate students in good standing, and teams are typically made up of students from a variety of institutions. There are no prerequisites, and no previous background in archaeology is required. All majors are welcome. All work is done in English, and although we will be in the French-speaking part of Belgium, no language background is required. 

Begun in 1998, the program is headed by Dr. Bailey Young, Distinguished Professor of History at EIU, and centers on the excavation of Walhain Castle, near our partner university, the Catholic University of Louvain (UCL). American students work alongside UCL students under the overall direction of the Centre de Recherches Archeologiques Nationales (CRAN), based at UCL and directed by Professor Laurent Verslype.


Dates and cost: This year’s program will run from July 4 to August 1, 2020, at the significantly reduced cost of around $4,647 per person*This includes tuition, fees, lodging, food, and local transportation to and from the site on workdays. This DOES NOT include airfare to and from Belgium or recreational weekend travelYou’ll earn 4 credit hours in either History or Earth Sciences (your choice) as well as a field school completion certificate. Honors credit is available.

The castle and the field school: We’ll be excavating the remains of a castle that was begun in 1198 (the earliest building phase we've identified so far). Later medieval phases included the construction of a moat, a gatehouse, a curtain wall, and three additional towers. During the Renaissance period, a residential palace was built along one wall. Later, the courtyard was largely paved over with cobblestones (so many cobblestones…), and by the 17th-18th century, the castle seems to have been taken over by local craftsmen. We’ve so far found the remains of a brewery as well as evidence of iron working and the subdivision of buildings into smaller stalls. In a state of partial ruin for decades, after the French Revolution, the castle finally fell into disuse, and much of its stone was removed and re-purposed by enterprising locals. While at Walhain, you’ll gain experience in, for example, excavation techniques, archaeological drawing, field note-keeping, and artifact handling and identification. Some days we’ll take time off from digging to listen to lectures from experts on medieval history and archaeology. We’ll also take time to explore some of the nearby historic sites and consider how they contributed to the medieval landscape of Walhain and the Low Countries.

Lodging: We stay in dorms on the UCL campus. Each student has his/her own room, and each hall shares a bathroom/showers and kitchen/lounge. The dorms are simple, but comfortable. And they have internet access! They’re also walkable to the city center, where you’ll find plenty of pubs, restaurants, a cinema, shopping, a train station, and a bustling grande place. 

General schedule: Most days we’ll have breakfast in the dorms and then head to the castle for a full day of excavation (with a break for lunch, of course). Students have their evenings free to explore the town of Louvain-la-Neuve and eat dinner at one of the program’s partner restaurants, where meals have been prepaid. Students are also free to eat elsewhere at their own expense. Weekends will feature organized field trips to significant sites in the region, including Tournai Cathedral and the medieval city of Ghent. At least one entire weekend will be free for students to travel on their own if desired.

A lot more info, including links to apply, is available on our website: or Facebook: 

You are also invited to contact Prof. Young directly at

The application deadline is February 7, 2020. 

Hope to see you at the castle!

*We earlier advertised at $3,200 but we later realized there had been a miscommunication with the university and that the initial figure did not include tuition. The correct total is $4,647. We sincerely apologize for this mistake and hope that all interested students are still able to join us. 


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