The Archaeology of Achill Island, Co. Mayo.

The Achill Archaeological Field School has been involved in surveying and excavating archaeological sites on Achill Island since being founded in 1991. Over the course of the last 25 years the Field School has worked on a wide array of different site types that reflect the continuous occupation of the island over 6000 years. The various projects undertaken by the staff and students of the Field School have created a uniquely in-depth record of the settlement and occupation of this enchanting place. Neolithic Megalithic tombs, Bronze Age houses and field systems, Iron Age promontory forts, early medieval kilns, medieval huts, a medieval tower house castle, several post-medieval villages, numerous post-medieval transhumant booley settlements and a 19th-century improving tenant’s house have all been subject to different types of investigation.

Achill Archaeological Field School

Keem Bay–May & June 2018

In May and June 2018 we will return to the site of a pre-Famine village perched above the breath-taking Keem Bay on Ireland’s Wild Atlantic Way. The village of Keem was in existence from at least the mid-18th century and by 1838 it had c.40 buildings. For over one hundred years Keem was a busy settlement of farmers, fishers, and wool spinners. The village met its tragic demise during the great Irish Famine (1845-52) and its small dwellings were subsequently demolished. Between 2009 and 2017 AAFS has excavated three dwellings at Keem. This ongoing research provides an unparalleled glimpse into everyday life in pre-Famine Ireland, and offers a significant challenge to popular perceptions of the period. In 2018 we will excavate a fourth house at Keem, focusing on what we argue is the oldest part of the village.

Caraun Point–July & August 2018

In July and August we will begin an exciting new excavation at Caraun Point, on the northern coast of Achill Island. Caraun Point is a small sand-covered peninsula jutting into the Atlantic Ocean. It is well-known for its rich archaeological remains, including an early medieval enclosure, a children’s burial ground, shell middens, and a number of stone buildings of unknown date eroding out of the sand dunes. In 2018 we will target one of these small stone buildings for excavation. The recovery of a dedicatory stone dated AD1618 suggests a 17th century date for the origin of the village; the excavation will answer some important questions about the development of vernacular settlements and building traditions on Ireland’s Atlantic coast. 

Programme Details

Academic Director: Mr Conor Newman
Field Director:  Dr Eve Campbell

Achill Archaeological Field School offers a range of 6, 4 and 2 week modules which offer academic credit that are ideal for archaeology and anthropology students from around the world.  All fees include tuition, accommodation, materials and local transport.
Additional details can be found on the Achill Field School webpage (see links etc. below)

Contact Details

Address:              Achill Field School, Archaeology Centre, Dooagh, Achill Island, Co. Mayo, Ireland
Telephone:         +353 (0) 98 43564
Fax:                        +353 (0) 98 43595