This listing expired on July 1, 2013. Please contact for any updated information.
The Spike Island Prison Archaeological Project, Ireland

Location: Spike Island, Ireland

June 30, 2013 to August 3, 2013

Session dates: 
Single session

Application Deadline: 
Monday, July 1, 2013

Deadline Type: 
Exact date

Program Type

Field school

RPA certified



Institute for Field Research, University College Cork, Connecticut College

Project Director:

Dr Barra O’Donnabhain, University College Cork

Project Description

Spike Island prison, Ireland’s Alcatraz, is located in Cork harbour. The prison opened in 1847 at the height of the Great Irish Famine and closed in 1883. The prison was an important holding center for convicts transported to Australia. The focus of the 2013 season will be on the convict burial ground and the bioarchaeology of the inmates. We also hope to investigate the foundations of a prison building. Archaeology provides a means of investigating daily life in the prison and the triangle of relationships between convicts, warders, and the institution, and also the place of such prisons in broader imperial systems.

Period(s) of Occupation: 19th Century

Project size: 
1-24 participants

Minimum Length of Stay for Volunteers: Entire duration of field school

Minimum age: 
18 years old

Experience required: 
No prior experience required

Room and Board Arrangements

It is anticipated that students will stay on Spike Island in the administration wing of the modern prison that closed in 2004. The accommodation on the island consists of bedrooms, a common room and kitchen. The rooms are comfortable and spacious and will be shared. There will be separate rooms for male and females students. There are separate male and female toilets on the corridor while showers will be in a block nearby. There will be a bed for each team member and you will need to bring your own sleeping bag and towels.
All meals are provided from Monday to Friday. Students are responsible for their own meals at weekends.
Please let us know when you apply for this program if you have special dietary needs, as well as any medical or physical conditions. We will advise you accordingly. The project is used to catering for vegetarians, those with gluten intolerance etc.

Academic Credit

Name of institution offering credit: 
Connecticut College
Number of credits offered 8 semester credit units


Contact Information
Ran Boytner
1855 Industrial Street Unit 106
Los Angeles
United States
Recommended Bibliography: 

O'Donnabhain B. 2011. "The social lives of severed heads: skull collection and display in medieval and early modern Ireland." In: Bonogofsky, M., editor. The Bioarchaeology of the Human Head: decapitation, decoration and deformation. Gainesville: University Press of Florida.