The Irish Archaeology Field School (IAFS) is Ireland’s leading provider of accredited, site-based archaeological research and training. The ethos of the school is to provide an opportunity for students and enthusiasts of archaeology and anthropology to experience at first hand the excitement of archaeological excavation in a teaching environment. Excavations are undertaken within an established research framework led by a team of highly qualified and experienced archaeologists.
We carry out archaeological research excavation, with a strong teaching component, to allow students and visitors a first hand and unique experience of discovering the past. Students of the school will undertake all aspects of an archaeological excavation and discovery at the site and contribute to the community project.
Our program is delivered at the Ferrycarrig ringwork castle, within the confines of the Irish National Heritage Park (INHP) in Wexford, southeast Ireland. This ringwork is crucial to the earliest stages of the Anglo-Norman invasion of Ireland, being the first Norman fortification built in the country. Today a bank and ditch are all that remain above the ground of this hugely important fortification, but archaeological excavations undertaken in the 1980s showed that significant evidence of the site’s medieval history is preserved below the ground (see below). See Discover Ireland for more information.
The project is a community based project, with a number of stakeholders and supporters, including the local authority, state bodies, and expert groups. The school is run by company directors Dr Stephen Mandal and Dr Denis Shine. The excavation directors are supported by a number of highly trained and enthusiastic supervisors and a team of specialists covering everything from human and animal osteoarchaeology, to geology and architectural heritage. We work closely with our academic partners in the Institute for Field Research to deliver practical and relevant field investigation courses.
Archaeology investigation is undertaken in January-February (Winter Program) and May-August (Summer Programs).
This program of research aims to document the two main periods of site occupation: a) the original ‘colonising’ ringwork established by Fitzstephen and b) the later medieval stone castle (and associated structures) of ‘Carrick Castle’, which subsequently developed as the caput of the manor of Carrick. Specifically, we are aiming to answer two main questions:
- How was the site originally constructed and defended? – how significant were the defences/palisade; when was the revetting wall constructed on the bank; was a gate tower constructed at the site; what archaeological artefacts survive from this period.
- How did the ‘castle’ subsequently develop? – is there medieval masonry/structure extant in the eastern portion of the site; what date is this structure; what is the structure’s form and date; what archaeological artefacts survive from this period.
Research excavations are undertaken under license to the National Monuments Service, Department of the Environment, Heritage & Local Government (the Irish government body responsible for the protection of our heritage).
The Irish Archaeology Field School was founded in 2005 and is the archaeological division of the Irish Heritage School, led by founders and company directors Dr Stephen Mandal and Dr Denis Shine.
Our mission is to provide university students with a first class training in archaeological research and excavation, coupled with an engaging, welcoming and enriching cultural experience.
All of our programs are undertaken within an established research framework led by a team of highly qualified and experienced archaeologists. Our staff include full time academic, management and administration personnel, and our seasonal support staff including student interns.
Staff (click images for biographies)