The Irish Fieldschool of Prehistoric Archaeology

Location: Corofin, Ireland

May 21, 2018 to August 24, 2018

Session dates: 
Session 1: May 21th - June 1st 3 Semester Credits/6 ECTS Credits Course title: Irish prehistory and the tombs of the ancestors (2 weeks) Session 2: June 4th - June 29th 6 Semester Credits/12 ECTS Credits Course title: Archaeological excavation and recording techniques (4 weeks) Session 3: July 2nd - July 6th TBC Semester Credits/TBC ECTS Credits Course title: Experimental archaeology and the material culture of the Irish Early Bronze Age (1 week) Session 4: July 16h - Aug 10th 6 Semester Credits/12 ECTS Credits Course title: Archaeological excavation and recording techniques (4 weeks) Session 5: Aug 13th - 24th 3 Semester Credits/6 ECTS Credits Course title: Irish prehistory and the tombs of the ancestors (2 weeks)

Application Deadline: 
Friday, March 30, 2018
Wednesday, August 1, 2018

Deadline Type: 

Discount for AIA members: 
2% discount for AIA members - redeemable as cash at the fieldschool

Program Type

Field school

RPA certified



The National University of Ireland, Galway

Project Director:

Dr Ros Ó Maoldúin

Project Description

The Irish Fieldschool of Prehistoric Archaeology (IFPA) combines cutting edge research into prehistoric societies with first-class and practical hands-on education. We want our students to understand the research questions with which we approach our surveys and excavations, to think critically about the techniques we employ and to become fully engaged in the interpretive process.

We are a National University of Ireland, Galway fieldschool and the only archaeological fieldschool singularly focused on Ireland's prehistory. We are currently concentrating on megalithic tombs, trying to understand how and why they were built. To date, we have excavated two wedge tombs and during 2017 we plan to dig a third.

We offer three courses: a two-week lecture and survey course, a four-week excavation and recording techniques course and a one-week experimental archaeology course. We also offer the discounted opportunity of combining two courses into a five or six-week course, or - for the ultimate introduction to Irish prehistory - combine all three into a seven week course. It is also possible to join us for the entire summer - thirteen weeks of courses, with one week of in the middle.

Period(s) of Occupation: Neolithic, Chalcolithic, and Bronze Age

Students on the excavation will get the opportunity to excavate on a prehistoric burial and ceremonial site, likely to contain cremated and unburnt human remains, and will receive formal tutorials on osteology, zoo-osteology, GIS and illustration. Excavation techniques, the use of a total station, 3D modeling with agisoft photoscan and single context recording will be taught informally on an ongoing basis, as the excavation progresses. Students on the survey course will learn traditional drafting techniques, how to use a total station, 3D modelling, geophysical survey techniques and 3D modelling with Agisoft photoscan. In addition, they will get to visit several of Ireland's most impressive prehistoric sites. Students on the experimental course will get an opportunity to cast in Bronze, knapp lithics and take home a few of the pieces they create. This is carried out in a archaeological reconstruction park where we have the use of a reconstructed roundhouse, fort and a real castle. Each summer, during the excavation, we have a series of academics from Irish Universities visit to give talks on Irish prehistory - every Tuesday night. We are based in the west of Ireland, in the beautiful Burren of Co. Clare, near the world famous cliffs of Moher. The Burren is a mecca for surfers, kayakers, hikers, cavers and other outdoor enthusiasts.

Project size: 
1-24 participants

Minimum Length of Stay for Volunteers: 1 week

Minimum age: 

Experience required: 
The only pre-requisites are a reasonable level of fitness, a proficient level of literacy and a willingness to learn.

Room and Board Arrangements

In 2017 our students will be housed in the centre of Lisdoonvarna village, in the town square holiday homes.

These are comfortable modern townhouses, with all broadband internet and fully equipped kitchens. Students will be housed 2 to a room, in twin beds. The accommodation is self-catered and students are expected to cook for themselves. There will be no more that 6 students to a house/kitchen and there are various options for eating out in the village.

Classroom and post-ex facilities

Our indoor classes, workshops and post-excavation work (on wet days) will be carried out in our University research station, which is equipped with PC’s, laboratory equipment and a lecture theater.

Lisdoonvarna is well served by public transport (bus) and there is plenty to do in the area on the weekends (e.g. surfing, caving, kayaking, hiking and site-seeing)

Irish prehistory and the tombs of the ancestors (2 weeks) €1,750 Experimental archaeology (1 week) €900 Archaeological excavation and recording techniques (4 weeks) €3,250 Combined 5 week course (sessions 2 & 3 or sessions 3 & 4) at the discounted price of €4,200 Combined 6 week course (sessions 1 & 2 or sessions 4 & 5) at the discounted price of €4,800 Combined 7 week course (sessions 1, 2 & 3 or sessions 3, 4 & 5) at the discounted price of €5350 Combined 13 week course (sessions 1, 2, 3, 4 & 5) at the discounted price of €8500

Academic Credit

Name of institution offering credit: 
National University of Ireland, Gawlay
Number of credits offered 2 Weeks - 6ECTS or 3US Credit Hours 4 Weeks - 12 ECTS or 6US Credit Hours 6 Weeks - 18 ECTS or 9US Credit Hours


Contact Information
Dr Ros Ó Maoldúin
Laghtagoona House
Co Clare
V95 N8C5
+353 87 0940034
Recommended Bibliography: 

Jones, C. 2004. The Burren and the Aran Islands: Exploring the Archaeology, Cork, The Collins Press.

Waddell, J. 2010. The Prehistoric Archaeology of Ireland, Bray, Wordwell.

O'Brien, W. 1999. Sacred Ground: Megalithic Tombs in Coastal South-West Ireland, Galway, Department of Archaeology.

Journal article

Jones, C. 1998. The Discovery and Dating of the Prehistoric Landscape of Roughan Hill in Co. Clare. Journal of Irish Archaeology, 9(27-43).

Jones, C. & Walsh, P. 1996. Recent Discoveries on Roughaun Hill, County Clare. The Journal of the Royal Society of Antiquaries of Ireland, 126(86-107).

Jones, C., McVeigh, T. & Ó Maoldúin, R. 2015. Monuments, Landscape and Identity in Chalcolithic Ireland. In: K. Springs (ed.) Landscape and Identity: Archaeology and Human Geography. 3-26. BAR International Series 2709.

Book chapters

Jones, C. 2003. Neolithic Beginnings on Roughan Hill and the Burren. In: I. Armit, E. Murphy, E. Nelis & D. Simpson (eds.) Neolithic Settlement in Ireland and Western Britain. 188–194. Oxford: Oxbow Books.