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Trainee Supervisor Course

Two 8 Week Courses

Session 1:   16 May to 8 July 2022

Session 2:   11 July to 2 September 2022


Dates: 16th May – 8th July / 11th July – 2nd September 2022
Duration: Eight weeks
Cost: €4,550

Trainee Supervisor Course 2022

For the 15th year the Achill Field School is offering our very popular Trainee Supervisor Course. This provides a second tier of training for former students of the Field School and for students who have completed at least one field school elsewhere. It is an exciting course open to students who plan to make a career in archaeology. In 2022 we are offering two sessions of our eight week Trainee Supervisor Course. The course costs €4,550 all inclusive, with the option of a deferred payment plan.

Academic Credit

Former (returning) students who have already received 9 Semester credits will not be eligible to receive further credit from the Trainee Supervisor course. New Trainee Supervisors, who have not previously received academic credit from the Achill Archaeological Field School will qualify for academic credit – this will be discussed with students when applying for this course.

The procedure for being accepted on the Trainee Supervisor Course is different from the application procedures for our other courses. Typically we tend to recruit our Trainee Supervisors from students that have previously attended the field school here. External applicants therefore will need to follow the application procedure listed below, at the end of which we can make a joint decision about whether accepting them would be appropriate.

So as a first stage we would like to receive a CV from you that covers the following points:

  • Previous Experience. A Trainee Supervisor really needs to have a decent grasp of the basic excavation procedures. The basic archaeological skills are adaptable and we can get you up to speed very quickly if you have a good background in excavation techniques. What we are looking for is a good understanding of the universal excavation techniques, perhaps most importantly a firm grasp of planning, section and profile drawing and preparing context sheets.
  • Work Ethic. This position involves a lot of hard work. Whilst the students work an 8 hour day, during different parts of the excavation the Trainee Supervisors, the Senior Supervisor and Director will be working late into the night and even during the weekends. This out of hours work will be undertaken in a really friendly atmosphere and we will have a lot of fun doing it, but when the time comes to start putting in some long hours we will really need you to be there. Similarly on site, you will be expected to lead by example. The students need to be kept energised and happy, even when the weather is poor or the work is hard going. If you are some one who suffers from low energy levels or can’t fake a cheery disposition when you’re not really feeling up to it then it will be hard for you to do this role. The students will take a lot of their lead from you, and we will be relying on you to always be in good form.
  • Amiability. To supervise any group of people you need to have a personality that binds people to you, or you need to develop a persona that allows you to do so. The Trainee Supervisors are at the very heart of the student groups so we need someone who is confident and likeable. A big part of the course is learning how to manage team dynamics, and we can help you learn different ways of doing that, but we can only work with what is there to begin with. If you are shy, or uncommunicative, or nervous, this may not be the right course for you.


The Trainee Supervisor Course is a unique learning experience which builds on the skills gained in the previous year. Candidates are therefore selected on merit and/or when they have demonstrated a good understanding of the basic principals of excavation.

Responsibilities and Training:

The Trainee Supervisors will be responsible for a particular area of the excavation and work with the Director to ensure that the area is correctly excavated and recorded. The Trainee Supervisor will lead a team of students through the process of excavation, and be responsible for maintaining discipline, providing training to the students in the basic skills of excavation, and compiling the site archive for their area of the site. The Trainee Supervisor will then be instructed in the basic post excavation procedures, learning how to prepare the written and drawn records to be placed into a permanent archive, how to write a stratigraphic report and digitise plans in Inkscape, and QGIS.

About the 2022 Dig Site

In 2022, the primary focus of work will be the excavation of two drystone houses at Tawnaghmore (translates as great meadow), a small enigmatic settlement, which probably dates to the late/post medieval period (AD1380-1900). Tawnaghmore is a nucleated settlement of 16 unplanned houses running in a linear fashion over 170m of ground at an elevation of 97m asl. The site is located on ground sloping gently south-eastwards, along the left and right banks of the Abhainabhaile (Townland River), which flows in a south easterly direction and enters the sea at Dooagh village. Access to Tawnaghmore from Dooagh is along the banks of this river, following a bog road, a narrow grass-covered track and a glacial ridge to reach the site. There is no visible road/track into the settlement. To the north east is a grass and bog covered linear settlement with an unknown number of houses called Caislean (small stone fort) which may suggest the presence of a Cathair (stone fort) in this area sometime in the remote past. A pollen core taken in 2005 indicated the presence of a deciduous forest in this area during the mid to late Neolithic (Caseldine, C. 2005, 169-178). The settlement appears on maps dated to 1809 and 1838 but little is known about its period of occupation or abandonment. The houses are relatively large, have some unusual features and are sub-rectangular in shape. We look forward to an exciting project in 2022.

Tawnaghmore dig site, Dooagh, Achill Island