Ireland: Ferns (Short Session) – Institute for Field Research

This listing expired on November 1, 2020. Please contact for any updated information.

Location: Ferns Upper, Ferns, Co. Wexford, Ireland

Season: July 12, 2020 to July 25, 2025

Application Deadline: June 1, 2022

Deadline Type: Rolling


Program Type:
Field School

RPA Certified:

Institute for Field Research, Connecticut College, Irish Heritage School

Project Director:
Dr. Linda Lynch, Dr. Denis Shine, Dr. Stephen Mandal

Project Description:

The Ferns Field School is located at the site of both St Aidan’s c. 7th century monastery and a 12th century Augustinian Abbey in the town of Ferns, County Wexford, Ireland. This site is a multi-period complex, originally founded by St Aidan at the turn of the 7th century, which also contains Early Medieval crosses and cross slabs, the twelfth century Augustinian Abbey (Mary’s Abbey), and thirteenth century medieval cathedral (Edan’s Cathedral) within its wider confines.While excavations of this site only commence in 2020, it is anticipated that human remains from both the Early Medieval monastery and later 12th century abbey will be exposed during field excavations*. The burial practices at the site are presumed to speak to the customs and histories of their times, from an Early Medieval cemetery, through its High Medieval usage, and latterly the change in the official state religion and into a time of proscription. During this latter period the Abbey was suppressed (from 1538 AD/CE), but was still described as a church and belfry, dormitory, chapterhouse, hall, and other buildings with c. 600 acres and other interests. Long after this time, and up to the present day, the wider site continued as a place of worship and burial focused on St Edan’s Cathedral (which was remodeled in the 19th century as a Church of Ireland structure).

By working on this program students will not only gain an introduction to archaeological field skills, but also how to excavate and assess human skeletons more specifically. By undertaking the course on a archaeological research dig (under the tuition of one of Ireland’s leading bioarchaeologists) students will learn how the skills of a bioarchaeologist are integrated into the overall management and execution of archaeological excavation.

* Students on this program will not be excavating skeletal materials. For the possibility of excavating burials students must commit to a minimum of four weeks: please consult our full-length program for details.

Period(s) of Occupation: Bioarchaeology, Medieval Archaeology

Project Size: 1-24 participants

Minimum Length of Stay for Volunteers: Participants are required to stay for the full duration of the field school.

Minimum Age: 18

Experience Required: No prior experience is required to participate in this field school.

Room and Board Arrangements:
Students will stay with local families in the County of Wexford. Home Stay students live with local families, and experience true home life in provincial Ireland. Students will be brought to the site daily. Students should understand that some host families are in rural settings and may not be in the town of Ferns. Breakfast and dinner will be provided along with a packed lunch.Students are encouraged to avail of their free time at weekends and explore Ireland.

Academic Credit:
2 Semester Credits credits offered by Connecticut College. Tuition is $3,010.

Contact Information:

Institute for Field Research

1855 Industrial St. Unit 106

Los Angeles




Phone: 424-209-1173

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