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Certificate in Archaeological Excavation and Recording with Osteology

Course Points
15 ECTS
Course Duration
5 Weeks
Course Level
Level 8
Course Places
25 Places
Course Start Date
4th July 2023

Four great reasons to consider this course

  • Earn extra credits towards your qualification in your home university and be part of the team on a live archaeological research excavation.
  • Receive expert tuition from a team of highly qualified and experienced archaeological researchers and excavators and gain experience in dealing with archaeological human remains.
  • Visit and live in the medieval town of Trim in the Boyne Valley, one of the most historic parts of Ireland, and visit the Brú na Bóinne World Heritage Site.
  • Learn about Ireland's rich archaeological and historical past.

Course Summary

This accredited programme is designed to give participants their first experience of the archaeological excavation process and has a particular focus on the retrieval, recording and initial processing of human remains. You will take part as a team member on a research excavation at the site of a medieval friary, the Blackfriary in Trim, Co. Meath, Ireland. You will experience all key tasks routinely performed on an excavation site and in an on-site post-excavation lab, including engaging with the treatment of archaeological human remains. In addition to the on-site work, you will also take part in the initial post-excavation processing of artefacts, environmental samples and human remains, and you will gain valuable skills. With expert tuition from the Programme Team as well as from visiting specialists, the programme is run as a four-week full-time block outside of normal college semester time. The medieval town of Trim is less than an hour from the capital city Dublin. It is located in the Boyne Valley, one of the most scenic and historic areas of Ireland, and home to the Brú na Bóinne World Heritage Site and you will visit a number of key sites in the area as part of your stay.

This five-week intensive programme aims to give students of archaeology/anthropology and others an opportunity to gain accredited practical hands-on experience on a live archaeological excavation site. Unlike its sister programme, the Certificate in Archaeological Excavation and Recording, this programme places particular emphasis on best practices in dealing with human remains in an archaeological context. No previous field experience is required, as you will be introduced to all procedures and techniques routinely carried out on an archaeological excavation as well as being given an introduction to the key approaches to post-excavation analysis as well as the appropriate techniques and protocols required for dealing with human remains. 

On completion of the programme, you will have all of the basic technical, intellectual and personal skills required to participate confidently and productively at a junior level on an excavation site and in a post-excavation laboratory setting. You will have been introduced to the procedures and protocols involved in the scientific systematic archaeological excavation of sites and will have basic competence in carrying out the range of basic excavation, recording, preliminary interpretative functions routinely undertaken by professional excavation team personnel including dealing appropriately with human remains in an archaeological context. You will also have a good working knowledge of the principles of the post-excavation process and other aspects of archaeological analysis of artefacts, ecofacts and human remains.

As well as gaining valuable on-site excavation experience, you will also get practical experience of participating in post-excavation processing, documentation and preliminary analysis. Students will undertake post-excavation processing of artefacts and samples, including human remains, retrieved during excavation, and will receive training in the work and recording procedures applicable to this stage of the excavation process. The skills gained by students successfully completing this programme are highly sought-after by employers in the archaeological sector. Furthermore, it is intended that these skills and the credits earned will contribute towards the credit requirements of higher qualifications where there is an obligation to gain accredited on-site experience.

This research excavation is at the site of a medieval Dominican friary, the Blackfriary, in Trim in Co. Meath, a National Monument in State care. You will live locally in the historic town of Trim and will also be brought on visits to the nearby Brú na Bóinne World Heritage Site as well as the National Museum of Ireland in Dublin.

For full academic detail on the programme, please see: https://courses.dkit.ie/index.cfm/page/course/courseId/8609

There are two modules in the programme:

  • Introduction to Archaeological Excavation and Recording with Osteology: This module aims to provide participants with a ‘hands-on’ experience of an archaeological excavation and includes an introduction to the archaeological excavation and recovery of human remains. Participants will be introduced to the aims and objectives of archaeological excavation and the steps involved in the research process that leads to an excavation. They will also be introduced to the range of techniques used and the components of the on-site recording system including the very specific protocols and procedures involved in the treatment of human remains in an archaeological context. They will participate under appropriate supervision in a research excavation and also in the recovery of artefacts, environmental samples and human remains where appropriate. This module is normally delivered in an intensive five-week block during the summer. For full module detail please visit https://courses.dkit.ie/index.cfm/page/module/moduleId/68701
  • Introduction to Post-Excavation Processing and Recording with Osteology: This module aims to provide participants with a preliminary ‘hands-on’ experience of archaeological post-excavation processing and analysis and includes an introduction to the processing and recording of human remains. It aims to give students an understanding of the principles of the post-excavation process and other aspects of archaeological analysis of artefacts, ecofacts and human bone remains. It also aims to give practical experience of participating in post-excavation processing, documentation and preliminary analysis with a particular focus on human bone. Students will undertake post-excavation processing of artefacts, samples and human bone retrieved during excavation, and will receive training in the work and recording procedures applicable to this stage of the excavation process. This module will normally be delivered in an intensive five-week block during the summer. For full module detail please visit https://courses.dkit.ie/index.cfm/page/module/moduleId/57094

The course will be delivered on-site at the excavation at Blackfriary in Trim which will function as an ‘open-air classroom’. Students will participate in hands-on archaeological excavation, processing and recording tasks. There will also be one formal lecture each week. There will be a series of practical workshops focusing on particular excavation or recording skills. There will also be some directed reading and independent study to undertake. 

The bulk of the work will take place outdoors so you will need to bring appropriate footwear and rain gear. Also, a reasonable level of fitness and mobility will be required.

Visit BAFS.ie for more information on fees, accommodation and delivery

Although this is a short programme aimed at students already engaged in major programmes of study, this programme will be of particular interest to students intending to pursue a career in archaeology. The knowledge and skills that students will gain during this programme are actively sought after by employers in the commercial archaeology sector.

Applicants must:

  • Be a registered student on a major award at NFQ Level 8 or equivalent or
  • Hold a major award at NFQ Level 7 in any discipline, or equivalent or
  • Hold a major award at NFQ Level 6 with a minimum of three year’s work experience.

AND

  • Applicants for whom English is not their first language will be required to have an English proficiency at IELTS 6 or equivalent.  
  • A reasonable level of fitness and mobility will be required. 

This programme will be of particular interest to students intending to pursue a career in archaeology. The knowledge and skills that students will gain during this programme are actively sought after by employers in the commercial archaeology sector.

This programme would also be ideally suited to:

  • Students/graduates of archaeology programmes wishing to gain practical skills.
  • Overseas students studying archaeology/anthropology who are required to independently gain credits on practical site-based modules as part of their studies.
  • Overseas students with a requirement for an accredited study abroad experience.  

Dr. Conor Brady (Programme Director, School of Business and Humanities, DkIT)
Email: Conor.Brady@dkit.ie

Course ID TBC
Course Type Flexible & Professional
Study Mode Full-Time
Level 8
Duration 5 Weeks
Starting Date 4th July 2023
School School of Business & Humanities
Department Humanities
Credits 15 ECTS
Awarding Body Dundalk Institute of Technology
Apply to Blackfriary Archaeology Field School (BAFS)
Delivery Method Blended

How to Apply

Applications are handled by our partner Blackfriary Archaeology Field School (BAFS). For all queries please contact the programme director, Dr. Conor Brady, by email at conor.brady@dkit.ie.

You can apply to the programme by completing the BAFS Student Application Form and sending your completed form, along with two letters of recommendation, to info@bafs.ie.