‘The Irish Heritage School provide an opportunity for students of archaeology and anthropology to experience at first hand the excitement of archaeological excavation in a supportive teaching environment.’
The IHS (trading as the Irish Archaeology Field School – IAFS) are Ireland’s leading provider of accredited, field-based archaeological research and training.
Whilst our programs are excavation-centered and aimed primarily at students of archaeology, anthropology and forensics, courses are open to all, and are guaranteed to give you an enriching and thoroughly worthwhile study abroad adventure.
The IAFS website contains detailed information on our Cultural Heritage Programs.
IAFS courses are designed to introduce students to practical archaeological field methods, and to build and expand on knowledge and experience gained in the classroom. Our courses are ideal for students of anthropology, archaeology, history, medieval studies, bioarchaeology, forensic anthropology, Irish studies and community archaeology or just those looking for a unique study abroad experience in general. Students may earn transferable university credits towards their undergraduate degree, through our academic partners at the Institute for Field Research.
Our archaeology programs are set in the Irish National Heritage Park (INHP) in Ferrycarrig, County Wexford, in the sunny southeast of Ireland.
THE SITE – The Ferrycarrig ringwork is crucial to the earliest stages of the Anglo-Norman invasion of Ireland, being built in the winter of 1169 by Robert FitzStephen, the first Norman Knight in Ireland. At this time, the impressive structure would have comprised a (wooden?) castle set within a large man-made bank/palisade and external ditch, sited on a natural promontory overlooking the River Slaney and Wexford town. Nowadays, the 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 from this troubled time is preserved below the ground. The site is the site is of key historical importance as it represents the very first wave of Norman colonisation of the country as they established a foothold in southeast Ireland.
THE DIG AND STUDY PROGRAM – Students will participate in a major research dig, which aims to clarify the form, function and date of the ringwork, as well as that of the castle and settlement that subsequently developed at the site. Students will learn to critically assess the site within its wider landscape of medieval Wexford, learning skills in archaeological survey, archaeological excavation, experimental archaeology and post-excavation analysis. The program will be primarily be taught at the excavation site itself but students will also be brought to a number of heritage sites throughout the county. The excavation spearheads a major new heritage initiative being jointly developed by the Irish Archaeology Field School and the Irish National Heritage Park.
THE PARK AND WIDER SETTING- The INHP is an open-air museum which recreates the key stages in Ireland’s past. The park is a 35 acre (14 hectare) outdoor museum depicting 9000 years of re-created Irish history situated within natural forestry and wet woodlands. Covering prehistoric through Norman periods, and featuring various buildings and structures typical of each period, the park is a cornerstone of ‘Ireland’s Ancient East’ and provides a stunning backdrop to the archaeological dig. The park is located 4km from Wexford Town, a modern provincial town with all modern amenities. Wexford (named from the Norse “Waesfiord”, meaning “the inlet of mudflats”) is nestled on the estuary of the River Slaney, on the southeast coast of Ireland. The town is one of the country’s great Viking and medieval townscapes, which since the Viking period has been impacted by foreign invaders, sieges, a famous insurrection and the gradual decline of its once crucial maritime industries.
Our archaeology fees are dependent on the duration and content of the courses; full details are available here.
Applications are processed through our IAFS website.
‘Even though we are a fairly small college, the coordinators at IAFS were eager to help create a program that suited our students’ particular curricular needs. At every turn, IAFS has been easy to work with and very accommodating. Their deep commitment to educating students about Irish history and archaeology are evident in every conversation.
Best of all, our students returned from their summer course with great enthusiasm and a keen ability to articulate facets of Irish history and culture that they had encountered. The program is well crafted – the hands on archaeological experience, the curriculum, the field trips, the home stays – all work together to create a unique and powerful experience for our students.’
– Dr Karen Chambers. Associate Professor and Ireland Programs Coordinator, Saint Mary’s College, Indiana
‘Maynooth University is excited to partner with the dynamic and ground-breaking IHS. The IHS provide expert knowledge about the site and were instrumental in developing new ideas to offer our students the chance to gain real, practical skills in field archaeology. The opportunity to offer a program that invites international students to work alongside our anthropology students has greatly added to our current offerings and our students had a wonderful time learning beyond the classroom and the textbook. All the IHS academics and staff provided a wonderful level of support, both academic and pastoral.’
– Dr Kathryn Segesser, International Office of Maynooth University, Ireland