Ireland Field School 2017
Application Now Available.
Download PDF or MS Word format.
2016 Ireland Syllabus: PDF | MS Word
Watch a short presentation on YouTube
for information about the 2016 trip.
Check out our new Castles in Communities webpage!
Check out our Google Slide Show
2016 Student Trip Blog
Facebook: Castles in Communities
Join us in medieval Ireland and the kingdom of Connacht where the last high kings defended their country against invading English nobles.
Experience an amazing archaeology and cultural program with anthropological field work, course work, group trips, service learning projects, and a living history experience.
Discover with us the beauty of Ireland as we begin an investigation of the landscapes surrounding the medieval castle of Ballintober in County Roscommon.
Live with us and other project members in both the manorial estate and the adjoining villages.
Work on all aspects of the research project, including archaeological survey and excavation and community development activities.
Check out photos from past Ireland programs:
Project Directors & Professors
Dr. Niall Brady (Archaeological Diving Co. Ltd.)
Dr. Samuel V. Connell (Foothill College)
Dr. Chad Gifford (Columbia University)
Dr. Kathryn Maurer (Foothill College)
Ana Lucia Gonzalez, MA (Foothill College)
Danial Cearley, MA (Foothill College)
What will you be doing in Ireland?
The field program is broken down into different parts. The field and lab training portions of the program involve all the aspects of archaeology, preparing the student to operate in a field
archaeology environment anywhere in the world. Benefiting from the over 100 years combined staff experience in teaching archaeology, each student is instructed in methods of site reconnaissance,
surveying, excavation techniques, data recording, photography, and drawing. In the laboratory, students are guided through different aspects of artifact analysis, such as ceramic typology and stone
tool production experiments.
A field journal will be covering every day in the field will be handed in by the student to the professors. The journal will cover the research being conducted and critically analyze the experience as it is ongoing. We find it is important for our students to reflect upon the daily rhythm of their lives. We will also require one or two blog posts during the trip.
This year students carry out Student Independent Pilot Projects (SIPPS). These projects are developed by the students during the field program and the investigation and analysis takes place in the field under careful supervision. A short final paper (5 pages) is due at the end of the summer quarter. Students are asked to consider a topic for research in the field and then will be asked to formulate a research plan during the 2nd and 3rd weeks which can be carried out on one day during the last week in the field. The data needs to be presented in report form and will serve as a jumping off point for future research in their lives. We have found that this has the highest impact on student learning by providing a truly academic experience.
Service learning projects will be designed by the students as a way to apply your new found anthropology background to discover real-life solutions to practical community problems. These will be conducted in a dynamic format with students conducting field research to determine a course of action.
We are living in the communities of Ballintober and Castlerea, and two hours by train from Galway or Dublin on the weekends. Also, the world famous beaches of Sligo are less than an hour to the north, along with incredible lakes in the region. For the adventurous, England and the rest of Europe are not far away. Ireland is a truly remarkable place, and we are excited to share its wonders with you, and meanwhile to do some really interesting archaeology!
The 2017 program will emphasize the links between archaeology and cultural anthropology within an ongoing archaeological research project. You will be learning archaeology field methods and working on ancient archaeological sites, but also be involved in community development work. Throughout your experience we will weave learning opportunities about the community context and how the application of applied anthropology pertains to the modern world.
The Foothill College's Summer Program focuses on Castles in Communities. The research explores the complex role that castles play in communities past and present. The 2017 investigation continues
the early stages of the scientific project at Ballintober Castle. From the historical records the castle is referenced in the early 1300s and was used by the invading Anglo-Norman (English) forces and
then re-occupied by the O'Conor family, who were last High Kings of Ireland defending the homeland against the English lords invading from the east. As anthropologists we are interested in the nature
of colonization and resistance across all cultures, and so this long-term back and forth resistance noted in the historical records is an ideal research location. Now the question that remains is
whether we can see this in the material record of the past. If you have seen HBO's program 'Game of Thrones' or read books about the Middle Ages, think to yourself what features on the landscape would
actually still be visible from the various locations where people are living and working.
At Ballintober Castle we believe that there are other construction phases that can be traced through time. Geophysical survey which looks below the ground using ground-penetrating radar and other instruments has already identified buried features under the castle. These are extremely interesting for our research and we will be doing test excavations to find these early features to try to identify how they are connected to the castle we see today. We are also interested in conducting more survey outside of the castle to try to find what is called the 'bawn' or the living areas just outside the castle walls. But this is still not the entire picture, a settlement survey of the surrounding landscape will help to begin constructing a model of the rural activity further afield. This is important because histories usually focus on the castles and not the communities, hence the title of our project - castles in communities.
We believe that this project can extend for many years in just this one location, because there are so many possible research questions. Yet we are interested in understanding the changing roles of castle in communities across Ireland. For example, today people have diverse relationships with castles in their communities, what role do the unique histories of each castle play in this relationship?
As part of the archaeology research students are trained in mapping, field excavation, and laboratory analysis. The project also utilizes Ground Penetrating Radar (GPR) to detect subsurface features and uses a Geographic Information System (GIS) to analyze data.
Foothill Program students will be residing for the month in the village of Ballintober and Clonalis throughout our stay. We will be renting homes in the Ballintober village for the program and we will
be directly engaged with the community. It is the same village where the castle is located. Students will be living and working with the people of Ballintober, and hopefully participating in home
stays with the community families. Alternatively students can stay in the carriage homes in the manorial estate of Clonalis which is still owned by the O'Conor family (see www.clonalis.com for a
valuable historical perspective and pictures of the self-catering cottages).
We will eat prepared meals by cooks in the local pubs for breakfast and dinner, and be preparing our own lunches. We really enjoyed the food and atmosphere last year. The cooks are great at taking care of all dietary needs, vegetarians and vegans are accommodated.
The area of study is located in the County of Roscommon which is centrally located in the west of Ireland near to Sligo and Galway. The bigger nearby towns of Castlerea and Roscommon are on train lines and bus lines which can be used on free days to explore. As you will discover, the area is a wonderful place to spend a month -- small, open and enjoyable.
All ages are welcome from high school graduates (> 18) to long ago retired. We believe in letting people go at their own pace. If you are concerned about your abilities to keep up with the group, please don't be worried.
The program fees and tuition include food, lodging, and travel in country. Airfare is NOT included in the program cost. Student is responsible for arranging and paying for their airfare. Program fees include basically all project activities between the above dates while in Ireland. Many participants take advantage of being in one of the most beautiful places on earth and spend time adventuring either before or after the field school.
Program Fees: $3,150.00
Tuition (12 units): variable cost
For the latest information about enrollment/tuition fees, please see Student Fees in Admissions & Registration.
Students are accepted in the order that we receive a complete application, including the deposit (although it is not required to submit the application). We evaluate student
qualifications on the basis of three criteria: (1) The applicant should demonstrate good academic standing as an undergraduate or post-graduate in an accredited college or university. (2) The
applicant has an interest in anthropology or archaeology. (3) The applicant believes that exposure to Irish culture would be valuable for them in terms of their life-long educational process. (4) The
applicant will be over 18 years of age upon attending the program.
Dr. Samuel Connell
Foothill College Anthropology Department
12345 El Monte Rd.
Los Altos Hills, CA 94022
2015 Report for Castles Trust by Dr. Niall Brady: Architectural and topographical survey of the standing remains of Ballintober Castle, Co. Roscommon, Republic of Ireland
Roscommon Matters on Irish TV - 30 minute program highlight our work and the village of Ballintober - very informative!: http://www.irishtv.ie/roscommon-matters-63
The O'Conors of Connaught, An Historical Memoir by Charles Owen O'Conor O'Conor Don, John O'Donovan. 1891
A historical and genealogical memoir of the O'Connors, kings of Connaught by Roderic O'Connor 1861
The Archaeology of Medieval Ireland by Terry B. Barry 1988
The Archaeology of Medieval Rural Settlement in Ireland
by Kieran O'Conor.
Royal Irish Academy, Discovery Programme Monograph 3, Dublin. 1998 http://books.google.com/books/about/The_Archaeology_of_Medieval_Rural_Settle.html?id=Q1egAAAAMAAJ
Ireland: An Archaeological Guide by Andy Halpin and Conor Newman.
Oxford University Press 2006 -- entire archaeological history of the island
Medieval Ireland: An Archaeology by Tadhg O'Keeffe. 1999
Medieval Lough Ce: History, Archaeology and Landscape by Thomas Finan. 2010
Important Links and projects on Medieval Ireland
www.archaeology.ie - National Monuments Service official website for Irish archaeology
Early Medieval Archaeology Project. A long-term project with great information gathered on the period.
the Discovery Program
Center for Medieval and Renaissance Studies
Q. Who Can Apply?
A. Anyone with a high school diploma who will be older than 18 on the trip.
Q. Do I need to be an archaeologist?
A. Certainly not.
Q. Will there be financial aid?
A. We are working on this through the Foothill Foundation and Financial Aid at Foothill.
ALL OTHER QUESTIONS CAN BE ANSWERED VIA THE PROJECT WEBSITE