Comments of former students of Achill Field School
The Achill Field School provided me with a vital foundation in field work, site setup, measuring instrumentation, and laboratory digitization. The Dig-Draw-Digitize class was taught by an excellent teacher, Brian O'Hara, and it was jammed packed. The Caraun Point, Achill Island dig was true reality; we uncovered the site from large amounts of inundated sand, excavated many layers of human occupation, all while the rain and wind was an ever-present obstacle. We drew elevation plans and context sections, took Dumpy Level measurements, and digitized the drawings in the lab. On heavy weather days, Brian presented lectures on history, excavation techniques, demonstration of the latest high-tech Total Station. This experience was a strong, authentic lesson in both archaeological field methods and the fluid management of a team as the excavation unfolds.
The Dig-Draw-Digitise course successfully employed a variety of approaches, including a large component of practical experiential learning, to prepare candidates for work in archaeology. The fact that the dig at Caraun Point was a real-life licensed excavation brought authenticity to the experience. Both the Field School director and the course instructor were adept at sharing their considerable experience and knowledge, and the school facilities were good. A further positive aspect was the diversity of backgrounds among my fellow students, all of whom had valuable perspectives and knowledge to share.
I'd love to come back, as the field school was the highlight of my summer!
Very impressed with what has been created as a School: facilities, faculty, library, lab shows a lot of thought and ability to pull this all off.
I had a grand time this past week working with and learning from the staff and students at AAFS and Caraun Point. And am glad we at least had a chance to meet and greet each other. It seemed to me that you have built a wonderful program (and facility) in a beautiful & historically rich region.
I had such a wonderful, wonderful experience. The course definitely met my expectations and beyond (we had a stellar field director!) and the environment/lifestyle on Achill was so good for the soul. Had some helpful life revelations in addition to learning a lot about the archaeological process.
Could you please share this note with Eve, Cari and Bridget, too? They shaped the "personality" of my experience and were each so informed, hardworking, dedicated, patient and personable. I'm sure all the students will take away lessons not only about how to conduct archaeology but how to be good teachers and supervisors in whatever future endeavours they pursue.
Thank you guys!! Hope our paths cross again.
I first attended the Achill Archaeological Field School in 2015 as a student. The experience was so spectacular that I returned in 2016 as a Trainee Supervisor. This experience reaffirmed my love of archaeology, Ireland, and academic pursuits. They teach each aspect of the field experience. I participated as a Supervisor during the summer of 2018 and really enjoyed working on a shell midden site at Caraun Point
My experience at the field school was amazing and I wanted to thank you because I learned so much and feel so lucky to have had such a great four weeks in Ireland
This was an amazing opportunity! Everyone was very helpful and I learned so much. I would definitely recommend this for anyone with an interest in archaeology or Ireland.
I graduated from The Ohio State University in December 2016 with a degree in Anthropology geared to archaeology with GIS experience. I came to the Achill Archaeological field school as a trainee-supervisor looking for an experience larger than what the typical field school offers a student, having completed 3 other archaeological field schools and working in museum collections in the past. I needed experience to be hired as a professional, more about managing a site and the process a site goes through, then tips for excavation. Eve Campbell and Theresa McDonald have been incredibly helpful in pointing me in the right direction of how to get to the professional level in a very competitive field. The knowledge gained here in GIS, archaeological practices, ceramic identification, plan drawings, managing students and Irish history has been everything I could ask for. It is great experience for those with no experience in archaeology and those with an advanced level. I feel now that when I work as a professional archaeologist, the skills I have learned here will make me a valuable addition to any archaeological team and would highly recommend this field school for people at any archaeological background and skill level.
Over the course of an intensive 6-week course, I learned the basic techniques of archaeological excavations including laying out trenches, removing topsoil, and working with a variety of hand-tools. I also performed section drawings, elevation drawings, horizontal planning, surveying, used an auto-level, and digitized archaeological drawings in AutoCAD and Photoshop
Having spent two weeks at the Achill AFS, I would like to thank you for a wonderful and useful experience. I also would like to thank all of the staff of the AFS for making our stay a fruitful and enjoyable one.
Theresa, I am thankful that 24 years ago you decided to establish the Achill Archaeological Field School. The experiences I had in the school and the people I met will forever aid me in my future career as an archaeologist. I hope to see you again someday. Thank you for all that you have done for the archaeological community as a whole and for me.
Hi there! My name is Zoë Rierson. I’m originally from southern Colorado but have just graduated with an undergraduate degree in Ancient History and Archaeology from the University of St. Andrews in Scotland. Achill Field School really caught my eye because I spent most of my degree studying the Greco-Roman Mediterranean and this field school was an opportunity to look at something different, particularly, in this case, the chance to excavate something potentially much older. What also attracted me to the field school was the fact that it contrasted (both in terms of digging conditions and age of the site) with the first field school I had attended a few years ago near my home town, giving me a more diverse experience in the field. Finally, I had read and heard so many great things about the field school and I’m glad to say it hasn’t disappointed!
This past week, week two, was one that I really enjoyed and it’s also one that highlights some of the aspects that, I feel, makes Achill Field School such a unique and fun experience. As well as teaching the important procedures and techniques utilized in the physical excavation of a site, the field school works hard to incorporate lessons and lectures, not just on current research, but also on the wide range of tools and different approaches taken to archaeology to capture the interdisciplinary nature of the subject. This is one of the aspects of the school I really appreciate and look forward to every week, as each week we usually have a guest evening lecture. Week 2 was special in that, not only did we have two evening lectures, but we also had a guest lecturer, Dr. Patricia Murrieta-Flores, who ran a two day practical course in Geographic Information Systems (GIS). The field school has a great computer lab which allowed us to do the course and practice our cartography and other GIS skills. I really enjoyed the practical as well as Dr. Murrieta-Flores’ lecture on landscape archaeology and the application of GIS in archaeological settings. What was so fun was that this was an area of archaeological research I had always heard about and seen, but until now, I hadn’t had the chance to try it myself. GIS has really peaked my interest and I have the field school to thank for that, because, without them, I may never have had the chance to give it a go!
The last bit of the week we left the lab and began work again at the site. I was working in quadrant 2 and it was nice to see something that resembled a trench after working so hard the previous week at removing the peat and heather. There were four of us working in this section, cleaning and getting down to some of the more natural layers under the mound soil. There were little to no finds, rather disappointingly, other than a small piece of flint and another piece of intriguing rock. However, I feel it was made up for because the two upright stones at the top of the trench really started to stand out, and with the new third horizontal stone running between them, it looks even more convincing as an entranceway. All the while adding to the mystery of what this site actually is.
So far Achill Field School has been an amazing learning experience for me. It’s been great meeting all the wonderful people and seeing the setting that really make this school what it is. I can’t say thanks enough. I’m so grateful I was able to take part in such an awesome experience and can’t wait to recommend it to others.
Anyone lucky enough to have had a chance to participate on an archaeological project on Achill feels a profound fondness for this place, its people, and its history. My three summers on Achill have become some of my most treasured archaeological and personal experiences to date. A lot has been accomplished in these three summers, through no special ability of my own but because I have been fortunate in having a host of enthusiastic and supportive people who have gone out of their way to help my project. I am truly grateful to everyone who has played a part in this project, and there are many. I could have accomplished nothing without all of their help.
Worthwhile. My time at Achill has helped me to successfully apply for the council of British archaeology community archaeology training placements. I am currently working with Bristol Museum and Art Gallery.
I truly enjoyed my time there, and I learned more about archaeology in those six weeks than anywhere else.
I miss Achill and the field school a lot though, so I can't wait to come back!
The Field School staff are just phenomenal, engaging and patient, in addition to being really informative so that my understanding of Irish archaeology has been vastly expanded.
I'd give anything to be where I was this time last year (2011) on a plane to Ireland and the Field School.
The Field School is fantastic! There are no words to explain how wonderful an experience this has been. Everything has far exceeded any expectations I had. I would recommend any of the courses to friends, family members or anyone else who has an interest in archaeology.
I quit my job to do this course [Bare Bones] and I am seeing it as a gateway to the next phase of my life. Thank you for making it a rich and fun experience. I will come again if I am able. I can't thank you enough.
A wonderful experience at the Achill Field School. I learned so much and got to use the new GPS unit in surveying an archeological site. A longer course next time!
My second time to attend the Field School and it was just as good second time around.
I want to thank you all for the wonderful experience at the Achill Archaeological Field School. It was, and still is, one of the high-points in my life. I am now moving into a graduate program and will probably be working with trace element analysis on lithics and using that to deduce mobility patterns, which you, Dr. McDonald had a hand in forming that interest for me as I remember one of your specialties being transhumance on Achill Island.
The few weeks of my life that I spent at the Achill Field School in Ireland were a wonderful experience. The Jane C. Waulbaum scholarship allowed me to have this experience, as the funds were used for travel and living expenses. I thank the Archaeological Institute of America (AIA) for this fieldwork opportunity.
I had the greatest time in Achill learning the history of Achill and learning the knowledge and tasks it takes to work in the field of archaeology. I hope that in the near future I will be able to pursue my passion for archaeology, and hopefully one day come back to Achill Field School.
I still consider my time at Achill, probably the best of my life. Thank you for all that you gave me.
My name is Zoë. I'm originally from southern Colorado but have just graduated with an undergraduate degree in Ancient History and Archaeology from the University of St. Andrews in Scotland. Achill Field School really caught my eye because I spent most of my degree studying the Greco-Roman Mediterranean and this field school was an opportunity to look at something different, particularly, in this case, the chance to excavate something potentially much older. What also attracted me to the field school was the fact that it contrasted (both in terms of digging conditions and age of the site) with the first field school I had attended a few years ago near my home town, giving me a more diverse experience in the field. Finally, I had read and heard so many great things about the field school and I'm glad to say it hasn’t disappointed! Achill Field School has been an amazing learning experience for me. It';s been great meeting all the wonderful people and seeing the setting that really make this school what it is. I can't say thanks enough. I'm so grateful I was able to take part in such an awesome experience and can't wait to recommend it to others.
Thank you so much for an amazing week on Achill! It says a lot when we battled rain and midges (small insects) and I still look back on that week with nothing but pure joy! You all made Achill feel like home, and I hope to return and meet you all again in the near future. Thank you for helping to reawaken my love of nature and old things; I can't wait to learn more! Wish you all the best of everything.
I would like to say that I had a wonderful time at your field school. I've learned so much during my stay in Achill and I am extremely grateful for this newfound knowledge.