Achill Archaeological Field School 2020

COVID-19 NOTICE: Please be sure to reach out to the project contact to find out the status of their upcoming season. Many projects have cancelled fieldwork for 2020 and the information below may not reflect that.

Location: Caraun Point

Season: June 15, 2020 to August 14, 2020

Session Dates: 15 June-July 24; June 15-July 10; July 13-July 24; July 27-August 7; July 27-August 14

Application Deadline: June 1, 2020

Deadline Type: Rolling


Discount for AIA members: €100

Program Type:
Field School, Volunteer, Staff Position

RPA Certified:

National University of Ireland Galway

Project Director:

Project Description:

Our 2020 program will focus on the multi-period archaeological complex at Caraun Point on the northern coast of Achill Island. Caraun Point is a small sand-covered peninsula jutting into the Atlantic Ocean. It is well-known for its rich archaeological remains, including an early medieval enclosure, a children’s burial ground, several shell middens and an early modern village of vernacular houses. In 2019, three drystone houses which date to the Post-Medieval period were excavated. Artefacts recovered from the excavation include glass and pottery sherds along with animal bone and shellfish remains. Analysis of these objects gave us an insight into the livelihood and diet of the people who lived at Caraun Point. One unexpected discovery was the presence of a probable Early-Medieval ringfort immediately to the west of our excavation. Habitation deposits associated with this site were evident beneath the Post-Medieval houses and some artefacts of 8th to 10th Century date were recovered. Our 2020 excavation season already looks like it will be fascinating. The ringfort, houses and some shell middens will be the focus of our excavations in 2020.

Period(s) of Occupation: Prehistoric / 8th to 10th Century AD and 1750/1900 AD

Caraun Point, Tonatanvally, Achill Island, County Mayo, Ireland. The machair-covered promontory of Caraun Point is the setting of a dense multi-period archaeological complex extending over an area of c.180m by 100m east/west, and comprising fifteen monuments marked on the RMP (Table 1; Figure 2). They include a robbed-out stone fort (caher), a children’s burial ground or cillín, six middens, four dry-stone buildings, two potential structures, and a relict field boundary. Prehistoric activity at the site is indicated by the adjacent unclassified cairn and the recovery of a number of stray finds of prehistoric date from the site including quartz and flint lithics and a polished stone axe. None of the eight middens recorded on the peninsula have been dated, but it is very possible that at least some of them contain prehistoric material.

Project Size: 1-24 participants

Minimum Length of Stay for Volunteers: 2 weeks

Minimum Age: 17 years and upwards

Experience Required: None. Beginners particularly welcome, as are mature students.

Room and Board Arrangements:
Self-catering accommodation (sharing) in modern, fully equipped Accommodation Block with everything supplied except food. Accommodation is located in our Accommodation Block next door to Folklife Centre in Dooagh Village.

Academic Credit:
3, 6, 9 Semester Hours/ 6, 12, 18, ECTS

Contact Information:

Dr. Theresa McDonald

Achill Island

County Mayo



Phone: (353) 984-3564

Fax: (353) 984-3595

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