Achill Archaeological Field School features as one of the 2014-17 Interactive Digs from the Archaeological Institute of America and Archaeology Magazine
Since 2014 the work of the Achill Archaeological Field School (AAFS) on Achill Island is featured as one of the ‘Interactive Digs’ on the website of the Archaeological Institute of America (AIA). Achill Island takes its place alongside Cahal Pech in Belize, Johnson’s Island in Ohio and Zominthos in Crete, as the featured digs for this online project from the AIA and Archaeology magazine.
The Interactive Dig offers extensive coverage of our archaeological investigations on Slievemore and at Keem Bay, with weekly videos from the field season and all of the latest images from the sites. The website also includes, a ‘Talk to the Team’ feature and Student Notebooks from the students taking part. To be featured on the AIA website is a real honor for the AAFS and is testament to the professional approach and depth of knowledge at the Field School. As one observer recently noted, this is a Field School with pedigree!
The video archive includes weekly reports from our first two seasons of excavations at the Cromlech Tumulus on Slievemore, and from the first season of our new project at Keem Bay. The videos are a really great way to see the process of excavation at work. At the beginning of each set of videos the site is shown covered in turf, with just some indistinct lumps and the occasional stone protruding through the grass. Over many weeks the overlying soils and archaeological deposits are gradually peeled away until the surviving remains of the building being examined are fully exposed within the trench. During the 2015 season we also made videos from our field trips which offer a great way to explore the island remotely.
The Student Notebooks section of the Interactive Dig include some very well-written, interesting and often highly entertaining accounts of both the dig and the experience of working and learning in Achill. Some extracts are shown below::
“By the end of the week, we’d got better at de-turfing, converted the Americans to the metric system, learned the Canadians weren’t all that great at judging metric distances despite using them their whole lives, learned how to use our nifty little diamond-shaped trowels to scrape down to the soil layer we wanted to expose, and found out the layer we wanted to expose was this really interesting richly-coloured orange soil that contained loads of charcoal mixed throughout it. All this so we could admire the beautiful mound of as yet unknown age revealed by our labours and learn a little bit more about the archaeology of this beautiful place.” – Read Nicholas’s full Student Notebook
“With our 3rd week of excavations officially in the books, there lies great potential for breakthroughs in the next few weeks. Fortunately, I will be part of it till late June! So far, in my time here on Achill Island, I’ve been so lucky to meet wonderful people which I hope will turn into life-long friendships. The people you meet at the Field School here on Achill is surely one of the unheralded splendours of the Field School. On top of that, after only three weeks of excavations, I’m now starting to feel like a true archaeologist. As a student and an aspiring archaeologist, I cannot put into words the amount of skills and practical knowledge which I have gained in such little time. Not to forget the transferable academic credit and the comfortable accommodation makes Achill Field School a great destination for any student passionate about archaeology looking to further themselves in the discipline!” – Read Julien’s full Student Notebook
“This week was an interesting one. I have been working in Quadrant 4, which is the second, and most northern trench that has been excavated on the site so far. It has been very interesting because the stratigraphy of the trench is full of different colors and patterns which is exciting because it means there was probably high activity, but at the same time confusing because we haven’t untangled the individual contexts yet! So to find out a little more about what we are digging, I started to dig something called a sondage. This is a deeper trench cut into the existing trench. It is an exploratory cut, and is only 40 cm wide and about a meter and a half long. Digging out this sondage yielded some interesting information. Based of the colour changes in the soil, we could see that there were two pits and a posthole dug into the earth during the occupancy of the site. Outside of the sondage we also found a peculiar line of stones running across one corner of the trench. We weren’t sure why they were there. Was it possible they were just collapse from the building? Or were the stones part of a small wall or some sort of structure? Later in the week we removed them to discover that the underlying soil was from a later date than occupancy of the site, so after recording the line of stones they were removed and we continued excavating the deposits below them.” – Read Clay’s full Student Notebook
The work of the Achill Archaeological Field School (AAFS) on Achill Island is featured as one of the 2014-2017 ‘Interactive Digs’ on the website of the Archaeological Institute of America (AIA).