This listing expired on April 16, 2017. Please contact for any updated information.
Achill Archaeological Field School 2017

Location: Dooagh, Achill Island, Mayo, Ireland

April 16, 2017 to August 26, 2017

Session dates: 
Module 1 (6 weeks) 22 May to 30 June Module 2 (6 weeks) 3 July to 11 August Module 3 (4 weeks) 22 May to 16 June Module 4 (4 weeks) 3 July to 28 July Module 5 (2 weeks) 19 June to 1 July Module 6 (2 weeks) 31 July to 11 August Introduction to Archaeology and Bare Bones (1 and 2 weeks) 14 - 18 August and 14 - 25 August

Application Deadline: 
Friday, May 12, 2017
Friday, June 30, 2017
Friday, July 28, 2017

Deadline Type: 

Discount for AIA members: 
Free 1-day Guided Tour

Program Type

Field school

RPA certified



National University Ireland Galway

Project Director:

Dr. Eve Campbell and Dr. Theresa McDonald

Project Description

Keem Bay (22 May – 30 June): 2, 4 and 6-week accredited modules available

The proposed excavation forms part of a multi-season research project at Keem by AAFS. The Keem Bay project aims to investigate the settlement at Keem in a bid to understand its character, material culture and development.  The settlement cluster at Keem is ostensibly a rundale village or ‘clachan’ associated with a large common infield extending northwest across the Keem valley. The settlement was in existence from at least the 1770s when it was indicated on MacKenzie’s 1776 ‘Maritim [sic] Survey of Ireland’. In 1838 the first-edition OS map showed some 40 buildings in the settlement cluster. The settlement was cleared in the 1850s. A new house was built by Charles Cunningham Boycott and a rectilinear field system was laid out across the site of the rundale village and earlier infield. The settlement remains today as a series of low earthworks.

During the 2017 season two cutting are proposed. These cutting have been chosen to address specific questions about the Keem settlement. The first proposed cutting will investigate Building 2.  Heel-shaped in plan, it is 4.30m long internally and has a maximum internal width of 2.4m at its northwest end, tapering into a point at its southeast end. It is not clear if this somewhat odd plan is part of the building’s original design or if it is due to the process of demolition.  The second proposed cutting will investigate Building 5, a small rectangular drystone structure located northeast of Building 2—it appears to be overlying Building 1. It is 2.5m wide and c.5m long (northwest/southeast). It is built against a large schist boulder that protrudes from the topsoil at this point. Photogrammetry (Agisoft PhotoScan) will be used to record the excavations. A model of each site will be made prior to their excavation. Pre-excavation models will also be made. Keem is sited on the Wild Atlantic Way with sensational scenery all round. 

Cromlech Tumulus (3 July – 11 August): 2, 4 and 6-weeks accredited courses

Slievemore is a special mountain. Its slopes bear the traces of over 6000 years of human settlement and activity from the earliest Neolithic megalithic tombs to the ‘lazy bed’ ridges used to grow potatoes until well into the 20th century.

Our plans for July and August 2017 include excavation of Quadrant 5 of the Middle Bronze Age Cromlech Tumulus in order to investigate this important part of the monument. We’ll also open up a fourth slot trench across the Danish Ditch (prebog field wall) aimed at determining if the double-walled route way structure is present at the western end of the feature where it meets up with the ‘Cromlech’ roundhouse.

We have a great line-up of visiting experts who will join us during the ‘Cromlech’ excavations. Neil Carlin, Aidan O’Sullivan, and Kerri Cleary will give us guest lectures on different aspects of Bronze Age Ireland, and Gary Dempsey and Rena Maguire will run specialist workshops on photogrammetry and finds illustration. It’s going to be a busy summer! 

Period(s) of Occupation: Bronze Age / late medieval / early modern

3, 6 and 9 Semester hours of academic credit available for our 2-week, 4-week and 6-week Modules

Project size: 
1-24 participants

Minimum Length of Stay for Volunteers: 1 week

Minimum age: 

Experience required: 

Room and Board Arrangements

Self-catered accommodation is provided in the village of Dooagh where the Field School owns an accommodation building beside the Field School offices. This consists of male and female dormitories (2 to 4 per room in bunk beds), most with en-suite facilities, a separate bathroom and shower, a common room with peat-fired stove, and a large, fully equipped kitchen. Wi-Fi internet access is provided throughout the accommodation block and the Archaeology Centre, which also houses a small but well-stocked library in the Archaeology Centre. There is a medium sized grocery store in Keel, which will be a regular stopping point in our routine, and a larger supermarket is located in Achill Sound to which weekly trips will be arranged. There are several pubs and restaurants within walking distance of the accommodation block.

approximately €700 per week

Academic Credit

Name of institution offering credit: 
National University of Ireland,Galway
Number of credits offered 3, 6 and 9 semester hours
•A modified version of the single context recording system will be used for the excavation. Individual context numbers will be assigned and a recording sheet will be completed for each context. •A full paper archive will be maintained comprising a context register, context sheets, finds register, samples register,


Contact Information
Dr. Theresa McDonald
Achill Field School
F28 HK11
+353 (0) 9843564
+353 (0) 98 43595
Recommended Bibliography: 

Aalen, F.H.A., Whelan, K. & Stout, M. 1997. Atlas of the Irish Rural Landscape.
Barry. T.B. 1988. The Archaeology of Medieval Ireland.
McDonald, T. 2006. Achill Island: Archaeology, History and Folklore.

McDonad, T. 2016. A Guide to Archaeological & Historical Sites on Achill, Achillbeg and the Corraun Peninsula
Waddell, J. 2000. The Prehistoric Archaeology of Ireland.