Our 2020 program will focus on the multi-period archaeological complex at Caraun Point on the northern coast of Achill Island. Caraun Point is a sand-covered peninsula jutting into the Atlantic Ocean. It is well-known for its rich archaeological remains, including an Iron Age/Early Medieval enclosure, a possible Early Medieval ringfort, a children’s burial ground, several shell middens and an early modern village of stone houses that were inhabited until the end of the eighteenth century. The Achill Field School offers students a unique insight into the archaeology of the Early Medieval/Late Medieval/Early Modern/Post Medieval period AD800-1900. Participating in the Achill Field School will therefore confer advantage on students working in CRM sites, particularly in North America and indeed in many European countries.
In 2019, Achill Archaeological Field School returned to Caraun Point for a second season of excavation. The primary focus of this years’ excavation was three drystone houses which date to the Post Medieval period. The houses are located in a dynamic coastal environment which is constantly evolving due to wind and wave action. Artefacts recovered from the excavation include wood, glass and pottery, along with animal bone and shellfish remains. Analysis of these objects gave us an insight into the livelihood and diet of the people who lived there. One unexpected discovery was the presence of a probable Early-Medieval ringfort immediately to the west of our excavation. Habitation deposits associated with this site were evident beneath the Post-Medieval houses and some artefacts of 8th to 10th century date were recovered. This site will be the focus of our excavation in 2020, so next year’s season already looks like it will be fascinating.
Our work at Caraun Point will provide a significant insight into community life in the West of Ireland over a one thousand year period, as well as contributing to the development of a diachronic picture of later settlement in machair sand-dune landscapes on the Atlantic littoral.