Program cost: €1250
Your program price includes the following
- Full-board accommodation in Wexford town
- Full tuition including all instruction, workshops and excavation/post-excavation supervision
- At least one field trip to explore Ireland and material related to the course
- Airport shuttles (at fixed times)
- Maynooth University transcripts and credit for course AN354 'International Forensic Anthropology'
** Please note that your costs do not include: any additional living expenses, your flight, cell phones and any local transport costs.
The Irish Heritage School (IHS) provides a unique programme teaching students how to excavate and assess human remains in the surroundings of the Irish National Heritage Park located in Wexford on Ireland’s south-east coast. The Dead Men Do Tell Tales course is designed for students from a variety of academic backgrounds with an interest in osteoarchaeology and physical/forensic anthropology. The course draws heavily on bioarchaeology so that students gain practical burial excavation experience (in a controlled staged environment) and have the opportunity to analyse archaeological skeletal remains during laboratory sessions.
Topics covered during lab sessions include: human and comparative osteology; determining sex, approximate age-at-death, living stature, identifying palaeopathological conditions and understanding how these techniques are used in archaeological and forensic contexts.
The course integrates field excavation and practical laboratory sessions with cultural heritage excursions to provide students with a unique academic enrichment and cultural heritage experience of Ireland.
The Irish National Heritage Park
This programme is designed to help you learn the techniques used by osteo-archaeologists, archaeologists and anthropologists during the excavation and analysis of human skeletal remains in a staged environment located inside the Irish National Heritage Park.The Irish National Heritage Park (INHP), an open-air museum which recreates the key stages in Ireland's past. The park is a 35 acre (14 hectares) 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 Ferrycarrig ringwork is crucial to the earliest stages of the Anglo-Norman invasion of Ireland, being built in the winter of 1169. 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.
Nestled on the estuary of the River Slaney, on the southeast coast of Ireland, Wexford is a fair sized (by Irish standards) friendly and safe town, some 150km south of Dublin. The town is one of the country’s great Viking and medieval townscapes, with intact medieval streetscapes and numerous upstanding archaeological monuments. The town of Wexford is named from the Norse “Waesfiord”, meaning “the inlet of mudflats”, a clear reminder of its Viking Heritage, which dates from the early 9th century CE. Since the Viking period the beautiful port town has been impacted by foreign invaders, sieges, a famous insurrection and the gradual decline of its once crucial maritime industries.
All the relevant local government agencies, are aware of the your presence, and they are anxious to ensure that your stay is safe and enjoyable. Please respect local sensitivities and traditions and to understand that the presence of such a large team of outsiders in the INHP does not entitle participants to any special treatment or privileges.
Although everyone will speak English you should expect surprising cultural differences and exciting opportunities to learn about the lives of others as well. You'll be immersed in Irish culture through learning, language, food and music, and should be prepared for the rewards and challenges that life in a different culture will offer.
One of the most significant historical events to impact Wexford (and Ireland) occurred in May of 1169, when a force of roughly 1100 Norman soldiers, led by Robert Fitz Stephen, Maurice de Prendergast and the recently deposed Irish king of Leinster, Diarmait Mac Murchada, attacked and defeated the Norse-Irish town. Following the capture of Wexford Mac Murchada granted lands, including the Norse town itself, to Robert Fitz Stephen and Maurice Fitz Gerald. In an effort to fortify the region Robert Fitz Stephen built a wooden ‘ringwork’ castle on top of a large rock at Ferrycarrig, directly overlooking a strategic point on the River Slaney (approximately 4km west of the town). This ringwork is the current location of the IHS investigation.
Situated in Co. Kildare, just over a thirty minute drive from Dublin, Maynooth University is located in the thriving medieval and university town of Maynooth. Maynooth University is Ireland’s newest university but learning has been present on this site from at least the eighteenth century. As such, it is a unique mix of modern spaces and the latest facilities combined with a rich and thriving historical campus.
All students are registered and receive credit and transcripts from Maynooth University. Students are registered to course code AN354, entitled 'International Forensic Anthropology'
Instruction is delivered by site expert archaeologists from the Irish Heritage School (www.irishheritageschool.com) - the course is also delivered by Dr. Dara Fleming-Farrell, a forensic anthropologist with many years experience using a range of three-dimensional imaging techniques, including laser scanning, computed tomography, and photogrammetry, in archaeology and osteoarchaeology, and studying evidence for interpersonal violence and warfare in archaeological skeletal assemblages. The course draws heavily on bioarchaeology in its focus.
After completion of the course students will:
Have an understanding of the burial history and archaeology of both Ireland and Wexford
Have the skills to confidently and professionally excavate human remains
Be able to identify and name the bones of the human skeleton
Have an awareness of ethical protocols and considerations when handling human skeletal material
Distinguish human bone from most common animal bones
Understand skeletal analysis techniques and how to use these to determine sex, age-at-death, and living stature from complete/partial skeletons
Understand the basics of palaeopathology and skeletal trauma identification
Understand the practical application of skeletal analysis in archaeological and forensic contexts
Two things to note:
1) we ask all students to hold a GPA of 2.5 or above to participate, and TOEFL 545 (paper based) or IELTS 6.0 (or equivalent) if English is not your first language
2) the module you will be taking is a third (final) year or 300-level module.
Students will be instructed in archaeological excavation and recording techniques – including excavation of archaeological features, documentation of finds, completion of site drawings and record taking of archaeological deposits. During their time on site students will also be provided with instruction in laboratory protocols, working closely with the materials their digging has generated.
A focus will be placed on the cataloguing and remedial conservation of both artefacts and ecofacts, according to standards set by the National Museum of Ireland (NMI). The NMI requires that all finds recovered in archaeological excavations are prepared, and conserved where necessary, according to strict protocols, in advance of submission to the museum. Students are expected to understand these processes, as they are a core component of field excavation.
Teaching and Learning Methods
Over the programme students will complete approximately 40 hours, spread over the following areas: Onsite excavation/practical work; Onsite workshops; Onsite lectures; Field Trips; Self-directed learning.
In total, 50% of the available marks will be allocated during continuous assessment while students are onsite with IAFS (including participation and a short test worth 10%). The remaining 50% will be assessed by examination of a 1,500-word paper, due one week after the completion of the program.
It is important that you understand that this is a summer school with a difference. You will be expected to participate in excavations at the site on a full-time basis Monday to Friday.
This work can be physically strenuous and demanding – we want you to engage both your bodies and your minds!
The field program, while focused on excavation, includes instruction in archaeological post-excavation techniques, as well as experimental archaeology workshops. The program is primarily based on the Ferrycarrig site, although students will also be brought to a number of regional heritage sites. Site and project orientations will also be conducted at the start of week one.
DISCLAIMER – PLEASE READ CAREFULLY
You should be aware that conditions in the field are different than those you experience in your home, dorms or college town. Archaeological fieldwork in Ireland is carried out in all weather conditions – including rain. You are required to provide suitable waterproof and weatherproof clothing and footwear as well as wind protection. However, in bad weather you will also be provided with shelter. Archaeological investigation will include moderately strenuous physical work. Students must be in good physical condition and able to walk three miles a day comfortably.
If you have medical concerns, please discuss them with your doctor. All other concerns may be discussed with the project director – as appropriate. Always pack enough prescribed medication to last the duration of your visit.
Experience life in Ireland as you uncover its past
Our accommodation is all offered on a home-stay basis in and around the town of Wexford. Living with local families, you will stay with ‘the world’s friendliest’ people and immerse yourself in Irish life. As you'll be guests in their homes we ask you to be respectful and clean and tidy throughout your stay. Your families will drop you to and collect you from site each day.
Our carefully selected and experienced host families offer full board so all your meals are provided (included packed lunches) as are your utilities. Towels and linens are also provided as standard.
Please make sure you let us know about any allergies or dietary needs when you apply so that we can match you to the best home!
We know that you want to get out and see Ireland whilst you are studying. To that end the entire group will go on at least one field trip where you can visit and learn from some of Ireland’s most magical sites.
Visa and Immigration
US and Canadian citizens do not require a visa for this program but other nationalities should check here.
You will however need to have a passport valid for at least six months after your expected departure date.
You will be asked to submit passport information on the application form – if you do not yet have a passport please upload a photo and make use of the comments section to indicate that you are awaiting a passport.
All participants must have valid medical/health insurance for the duration of the program. This is both a Maynooth University and an immigration requirement.
We strongly recommend that you bring enough prescription medication to last for the duration of the program as some brands/medications may differ in Ireland.
What do I need to bring?
Work shoes or boots: closed toe-footwear, waterproof that will be comfortable for both walking and kneeling: a hiking style shoe or boot would be suitable. Gumboots/wellingtons are also suitable for use on site however if you choose to wear these for digging, you may need pair of trail shoes or similar for field trips etc.
Waterproof outwear: a jacket (with a hood if possible) and pants – gortex is best (but expensive). You will need something sturdy that will stand up to wear and tear of everyday use in excavation. You can buy waterproof gear locally in Ireland (if you choose to do this, budget to spend about €50/$70).
Warm layers: wool, fleece, thermal layers – you should bring and wear lots of layers rather than one warm/heavy layer. Bring things that are suitable for outdoor work. Ireland can experience all ‘seasons in a single day’.
Sunscreen: students should wear an SPF daily to protect against UV exposure and windburn.
Hat: something to keep your head protected. A peaked hat can be useful for shade while digging.
Laptop/tablet: it is advisable to bring a devise to work on, as well as a notebook/journal for taking notes.All other necessary equipment is provided. A welcome pack, containing a site journal, archaeological trowel, gloves and other items it also given to each student.