The Irish Archaeology Field School is engaged in a number of research projects, including collaborations with established academics, student graduate research, and community groups.
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Ferrycarrig Research Project
The site is today located in the townland of Newtown (Barony of Shelmalier West). Today the site/area is most commonly known as Ferrycarrig, although Ferrycarrig is in fact the name of the townland on the northern side of the River Slaney, directly across from Newtown. The site is approximately four kilometres west of Wexford town and is located at the head of a ‘promontory’ of land which extends into the Slaney River; this headland reaches a height of c. 32m and falls dramatically in a sheer escarpment toward the Slaney river.
The project aims to clarify the form, function and date of the ringwork, as well as the castle and settlement that subsequently developed at the site. From the documentary sources we know that the site was originally constructed in 1169 and consisted of a fosse and apparently a palisade of wood and sods, an historical account that appears borne out by the archaeological record. We also know from the historical record that medieval stone buildings were contained within the site. While the construction of the round tower in 1857-1858 may have removed some of the archaeology on the sites interior medieval masonry has been confirmed within the ringwork. As such two keys periods of occupation are extant at the site: a) the original ‘colonising’ ringwork established by Fitzstephen and b) the later medieval stone castle (and associated structures) of Carrick. This stone castle appears to have been built sometime within the 65 years following the ringwork’s establishment and subsequently developed as the caput of the manor of Carrick. The site occupies a crucial position in the history of Ireland, representing the very first wave of Norman colonisation of the country.
Since the 1980s this area has been part of the within the Irish National Heritage Park, – an open-air museum which recreates the key stages in Ireland’s past. The park contains 35 acres (14 hectares) of outdoor museum depicting 9000 years of re-created Irish History situated within natural forestry and wet woodlands. Covering prehistoric through to Norman periods, and featuring various buildings and structures typical of each period, the park truly is a cornerstone of heritage and tourism experiences in the south-east of Ireland.