Module 2 (3 July-11 Aug. 2017)

Archaeology fieldwork on Achill Island

July 3, 2017
Six Weeks
9 Semester Credits or 18 ECTS points


Achill Field School, Dooagh   View map


Modular Courses

Module 2

SS106 + SS107 + SS108: 18 ECTS / 9 Semester Academic Credits Awarded. Course fees includes tuition, accommodation in our superior, fully equipped self-catering building, materials, local transport, lectures and seminars as well as academic credit.

Dates: 3rd July to 11th August 2017 (6 Weeks)
Cost: €4850

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The six-week module is the most extensive training course open to new students at Achill Archaeological Field School. It is ideally suited to students who have a serious interest in learning the skills and methods of field archaeology and who wish to partake in a complete excavation from the very start to the very end. Training is provided on a one to one basis by highly experienced Irish archaeologists and by the end of the course each student will have a detailed knowledge of many aspects of archaeological fieldwork.


The Excavation:

Students taking Modules 2 will participate in the excavation of the multi-period ‘Cromlech Tumulus’ site on the slopes of the iconic Slievemore mountain. The Cromlech Tumulus is a 3200 year-old Middle Bronze Age (MBA) house with the superimposed remains of a number later medieval and post-medieval hut sites. The MBA house forms part of a much broader prehistoric landscape including an early Neolithic court tomb and an enigmatic pre-bog wall known as the Danish Ditch.  Achill Archaeological Field School has been excavating at the Cromlech since 2014, and the site has yielded some intriguing finds, notably a beach pebble with a carved face, that we call the ‘Slievemore man’.


What the Course Covers:

  • The course provides a thorough grounding in the theory and practice of archaeological excavation and recording. Students will be led through the entire  process of excavation from laying out a site grid to back-filling the trench.
  • Three intensive workshops will prime students in photogrammetry, archaeological illustration and GIS for archaeologists.
  • Module 2 includes a weekly lecture series on Irish archaeology supplemented by additional fortnightly guest lectures from a range of experts.
  • Students will also undertake six full-day field trips to visit some of the spectacular archaeological sites on and around Achill Island. Optional weekend tours to a selection of Ireland’s premier archaeological sites are also open to students.
  • During the duration of this course students will undertake their own study on an aspect of Irish archaeology they find interesting and prepare a short paper on the subject, with extensive guidance from the Director of Fieldwork.


Learning outcomes:

This course will enable students to:

  • Understand the theory and practice of archaeological excavation, including the single context recording system, site grid, stratigraphy, and the Harris Matrix.
  • Excavate an archaeological feature.
  • Carry out archaeological recording including, context sheets, scaled drawings, and photographs.
  • Excavate, retrieve, bag and record archaeological objects (artefacts and ecofacts).
  • Carry out basic environmental sampling.
  • Understand the process of post-excavation analysis.
  • Digitise site drawings.
  • Process archaeological finds. Know the correct procedures for cleaning and labelling artefacts.
  • Outline the basic chronology of Irish archaeology.
  • Identify common archaeological monuments in the landscape, describe their date and function.
  • Determine the various phases of human influence in an archaeological landscape.


  • Participation in excavation and lectures 50%
  • 1,500 word essay 25%
  • Weekly MCQ tests 25%

This course is fully accredited by the National University of Ireland, Galway, and students who successfully complete the course will receive 9 Semester Credits or 18 ECTS points:

  • SS106: Introduction to Archaeology of Ireland
  • SS107: Archaeological Field Studies
  • SS108: Data Analysis

Included in Module 2 is a two day course on Archaeological Finds Illustration and a one day Introduction to ArcGIS Online, which are outlined below:

Introduction to ArcGIS Online

This one day course introduces students to some of the principles of producing interactive maps in the fantastic and free to use ArcGIS software package. Using photographs and written descriptions the students have recorded during the various field trips students will create a series of different types of ‘Story Map.’ This simple, flexible and professional looking software package is something that students could later use in their own mapping projects.

Drawing Archaeological Finds

Rena Maguire, PhD. Candidate at Queen’s University, Belfast will host a two day workshop on drawing archaeological finds. This course was offered for the first time in 2015 and was extremely popular with all of our students, many of whom produced excellent drawings after participating in this short course. Students will be taught the principles of finds illustration and then be tutored on how to produce high quality ‘point\ style scale drawings of a whole range of artefacts.


Digital heritage expert Gary Dempsey (RealSim) will lead a hands-on workshop on photogrammetry for archaeologists. Students will learn they theory behind this innovative technique before learning how to make their own 3D models using PhotoScan software. 

Questions About This Course?
Please get in touch, we’re here to help and would love to hear from you. Contact Us

Please use the ‘Apply for this course’ link below to begin your application. If you have already applied and been approved, please proceed to Payment For This Course.

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