Ritual Pilgrim Landscape of Disert, Ireland – Institute for Field Research

Location: , IE

Season: June 23, 2019 to July 20, 2019

Application Deadline: April 5, 2019

Deadline Type: Rolling


Program Type:
Field school

RPA Certified:

Institute for Technology, Siglo, California State University, Los Angeles, Connecticut College, Institute for Field Research

Project Director:
Dr Fiona Beglane, and Dr René Vellanoweth

Project Description:

Disert is a ritual pilgrim landscape in Co. Donegal that includes a series of early ecclesiastical enclosures, penitential cairns, a holy well dedicated to St Colmcille (also known as St Columba), a post-medieval altar and a cillín (children’s graveyard). It may date to as early as the sixth century AD when it was reputedly founded by St Colmcille or may even extend back into prehistory.  Disert is still important today for religious devotion and for pilgrims seeking miraculous cures for medical conditions.

This spectacular area lies at the foothills of the Bluestack Mountains, some 10km from Donegal Town and the Wild Atlantic Way. Rural sites such as this are poorly understood and the excavation will offer the opportunity to examine the role of Disert in both early and more recent Irish Christianity.

2019 will be the first year of excavation so the focus will be on understanding the dating and origin of the site as well as the nature of features previously identified by fieldwalking, drone survey and geophysics.  Students will be working closely with members of the local community and with Irish students to begin to unpick this fascinating story. They will gain experience of excavating, recording and surveying sites and in the evenings will be introduced to Irish culture, society and hospitality.

Project Size: 1-24 participants

Minimum Length of Stay for Volunteers: Participants must stay entire duration of the field school.

Minimum Age: 18

Experience Required: No prior experienced required.

Room and Board Arrangements:
Students will be housed in purpose-built holiday homes in a mixture of single and twin-bedded rooms, which will be allocated using a random draw at the welcome meeting. Those sharing rooms will do so with others of the same gender. Fresh bed linen and regular cleaning of communal areas will be provided.  Students should provide their own towels. There is a washing machine in each house. The accommodation has a tennis court for the use of guests, there is a rocky shore approximately 10 minutes walk from the accommodation and a sandy beach 20 minutes walk away. Three meals per day (breakfast/lunch/dinner) are included from Monday to Friday plus the welcome meal on the first Sunday evening. Tea, coffee, water and biscuits (cookies) will also be provided on site during the excavation. Students will need to prepare and bring their own packed lunch daily from groceries supplied by the project. A large tent will be provided on-site to store bags and for shelter at mealtimes if necessary. Evening meals will be prepared by a professional chef and will always include at least one option that contains meat, fish or poultry plus at least one vegetarian option. Students will be required to assist with washing up after meals. If you have any particular dietary needs or allergies then contact us in advance. Cost: Three meals per day (breakfast/lunch/dinner) are included from Monday to Friday plus the welcome meal on the first Sunday evening.

Academic Credit:
8 Semester Credits credits offered by Connecticut College. Tuition is $4,445.

Contact Information:

Institute for Field Research

2999 Overland Ave. Suite 103

Los Angeles



United States

Phone: 4242091173

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