Ireland Field School: Castles in Communities

Location: Ballintober, Roscommon, Ireland

July 1, 2018 to August 2, 2018

Application Deadline: 
Wednesday, June 20, 2018

Deadline Type: 

Program Type

Field school
Staff position

RPA certified



Foothill College, Department of Anthropology

Project Director:

Daniel Cearley (Foothill College and Las Positas College) and Niall Brady (ADCO)

Project Description

An examination of castles in communities from past to present focusing our 2018 research on Ballintober Castle in County Roscommon, Ireland. The archaeological and anthropological field school project this year is a student focused investigation of the ancient and modern medieval Irish landscape.  Researchers are interested in colonial encounters between the Anglo-Norman occupiers and the indigenous Gaelic-Irish settlers.  

The archaeology in 2018 will continue large cuttings within the castle to expose early construction phases.  Exciting new work will look at the recently discovered deserted village adjacent to the castle. Survey will continue ground-penetrating radar and magnetometry inside the castle and in the nearby townlands. Proposed test pitting of medieval features to include house plots, agricultural features and a possible crannog.  Further systematic foot survey and mapping of surrounding landscape features such as ring forts will continue.  

The cultural anthropology and folklore component will continue to trace a community's relationship with a castle through time.  Examples of this research will be the gathering of folklore via interviews with townspeople.  

To download an application and find out more information go to the Department of Anthropology website at Foothill College.


For a quick presentation about the project and your experience see this Youtube video

For more detailed archaeological information about the castle: See this brochure put out by the Roscommon CountyCouncil

Also Niall Brady's Castle Studies Trust publication

Our Facebook page is very informative with many more photos as well


Period(s) of Occupation: Early and Late Medieval Ireland

Ireland Archaeology Field School excavations of Ballintober Castle and adjacent deserted village. Castles in Communities project combines archaeology and cultural anthropology. Course credits transfer to all major universities, including UCs and CSUs. Coursework includes Irish prehistory; archaeology via careful excavations in the castle; ethnographic techniques to gather data on community life past and present; survey methods via ground penetrating radar and using GIS to find the associated village; and laboratory analysis. Lodge in village community and meals provided by local pubs. Field program includes guided group trips. All experience levels welcome, including undergrads, grad students, and people who simply want to do archaeology in Ireland. Ballintober is an amazing place!

Project size: 
25-49 participants

Minimum Length of Stay for Volunteers: 5 weeks

Minimum age: 

Experience required: 
Staff inquiries will need to submit a CV and a reference. Volunteers may have to enroll in a short course.

Room and Board Arrangements

Foothill Program students will be residing in several locations for the month. Most of the students will want to stay in the village in rented homes which was a very special experience last year.  In addition, we are renting the carriage homes in the manorial estate of Clonalis which is still owned by the O'Conor family (see for a valuable historical perspective and the  Clonalis is located just next to the large town of Castlerea, in which we will also have an active presence throughout our stay however it is 15 minutes away from the castle.  As indicated, we will be renting homes next the castle and being directly engaged with the community of Ballintober where the castle is located.  Ballintober is a small village located a few miles away in the countryside.  Students will be living and working with the people of Ballintober.  Food is a mix of local Irish cooks and group meals prepared by students and staff. Vegetarians are welcome! The area of study is located in the County of Roscommon which is centrally located in the west of Ireland near to Sligo and Galway.  Castlerea is on train lines and bus lines which can be used on free days to explore.   As you will discover, Castlerea and Ballintober are wonderful places to spend a month -- small, open and enjoyable.

$3150 program fees not including plane fares and tuition payments

Academic Credit

Name of institution offering credit: 
Foothill College
Number of credits offered up to 12 transfer units from Foothill College to University of California, Cal State Universities, and others around the country. Foothill is on the quarter system so although these courses carry the same weight as semester courses sometimes the units transfer differently. ANTH 12 Applied Anthropology (4 units) ANTH 52 Archaeological Field Methods (4 units) ANTH 67C Cultures of the World: British Isles (4 units) ANTH 51: Archaeological Survey (2 units) ANTH 17L: Archaeology Laboratory (2 units)
CA resident $31/unit Out of State or International $160/unit


Contact Information
Daniel Cearley
Department of Anthropology, Foothill College
Los Altos Hills
United States
Recommended Bibliography: 

Brady, Niall. Architectural and topographical survey of the standing remains of Ballintober Castle, Co. Roscommon, Republic of Ireland. 2015.

Barry, Terry.  The Archaeology Medieval Ireland. Routledge, 2002. 

O'Conor, Kieran. The Archaeology of Medieval Rural Settlement in Ireland, Discovery Programme Monograph 3, Dublin. 1998