Academic Director:  Dr Kieran O'Conor
Field Director: Dr Rory Sherlock
Course Overview

The Galway Archaeological Field School has been established to provide students with hands-on experience of the archaeology and architecture of medieval Ireland. We specialise in this field and seek to immerse our students in the wealth of medieval castles, churches and monasteries which lie scattered across the Irish landscape. The Field school offers three courses: a two-week non-excavation course focussed on the study of medieval architecture and two four-week excavation courses, one serving as an introduction to archaeological excavation and one offering experienced students further tuition in the various recording techniques used in archaeological excavation.

Students often combine the two-week architecture course with one of the four-week excavation courses to create an unforgettable six-week stay in Ireland. 

Course Modules

SS109 - Introduction to Archaeological Excavation (12 ECTS/6 Semester Credits)

This four-week course will introduce students to the practicalities of archaeological excavation at Isert Kelly Castle and provide them with hands-on experience of the key techniques they need to master to become proficient excavators. It is generally aimed towards undergraduate students of archaeology and anthropology, who usually take the course for credit, but the course is open to all and can be taken by anyone with an interest in archaeological fieldwork.  Students on this course will learn to excavate using a variety of tools, but will also gain valuable experience of a range of on-site recording techniques which will generate a structured written record, a series of scaled drawings and an extensive photographic archive of the castle under examination.

SS124 - Castles, Cloisters and Churches: The Architecture of Medieval Ireland (6 ECTS/3 Semester Credits)

This two-week course will investigate the architecture and archaeology of the castles, churches and cloisters of medieval Ireland. Students will visit a wide variety of historic buildings and will learn to analyse, describe and record these structures using a series of key survey techniques. Beginning in the early medieval period, the course will examine a number of pre-Norman ecclesiastical sites before going on to explore the wealth of Anglo-Norman and Gaelic castles and monasteries which are found across the Irish landscape. This field-based module will provide students with a solid understanding of the evolution of Irish medieval architecture and will also give them key transferable skills in building analysis and survey.

SS125 - Recording Methods in Archaeological Survey and Excavation (12 ECTS/6 Semester Credits)

This four-week course is designed for students with some experience of archaeological excavation and seeks to provide them with an opportunity to become proficient excavators. Working alongside novice students at Isert Kelly Castle under the close supervision of the site director, students undertaking this course will be given responsibilities commensurate with their experience and these will include the excavation of discrete archaeological features, the creation of written, drawn and photographic records, the recording of finds and environmental samples and the analysis of the stratigraphic evidence within their work area. This module will allow students with some excavation experience to develop significantly as archaeologists and will teach them a range of transferable skills which can be applied on professional research excavation and survey projects around the world. This course is open to students who have previously completed SS109 or who can show that they already have sufficient excavation experience from other archaeological sites.      

Students may enrol on 1, 2 or 3 modules. 


Session 1:   25 May -  5 June, 2020 (Course SS124 - Castle, Cloisters & Churches: The Architecture of Medieval Ireland)
Session 2: 8 June - 3 July, 2020 (Course SS109 - Introduction to Archaeological Excavation)
Session 3: 6 July - 31 July, 2020 (Course SS109 - Introduction to Archaeological Excavation or SS125 - Recording Methods in Archaeological Survey & Excavation)
Session 4: 3 August - 14 August, 2020 (Course SS124 - Castle, Cloisters & Churches: The Architecture of Medieval Ireland)  

Tuition & Accommodation Costs

Session 1 or 4: €1,750 (2 weeks)
Session 2 or 3: €3,450 (4 weeks)
Sessions 1 & 2 or 3 & 4: €4,680 (6 weeks)
Sessions 2 & 3: €6,210 (8 weeks)

Cost includes tuition, self-catering accommodation and local transport to excavation sites.


NUI Galway campus-based summer courses and some partner courses have been cancelled for summer 2020. For details on our alternative online summer course options, click here.

Students must be 18 years old at the time of course commencement.

Further Information

Dr. Rory Sherlock MIAI
Galway Archaeological Field School
Co. Galway
Telephone:  +353-(0)87-2867061





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