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Certificate in Archaeological Excavation and Recording

Course Points
Course Duration
4 Weeks
Course Level
Level 8
Course Places
25 Places
Course Start Date
May 2023 and June 2023

Three 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.
  • Study 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.

Course Summary

This accredited programme is designed to give participants their first experience of the archaeological excavation process. 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. In addition to the on-site work, you will also take part in the initial post-excavation processing of artefacts and environmental samples and 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 programme is designed to give students of archaeology/anthropology and others an opportunity to gain accredited practical hands-on experience on a live archaeological excavation site. 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.

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 be 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, and preliminary interpretative functions routinely undertaken by professional excavation team personnel. They will also have a good working knowledge of the principles of the post-excavation process and other aspects of archaeological analysis of artefacts and ecofacts.  

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 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 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 visit

There are two modules in the programme:

  • Module 1. Introduction to Archaeological Excavation and Recording. On completion, the student will be able to:
    • apply the series of techniques of archaeological excavation on site;
    • integrate the principles of the single context recording system into all on-site excavation and recording practices;
    • discuss the elements of the on-site recording system;
    • apply the range of methods of recording of archaeological information on site;
    • generate preliminary interpretations of contexts, features and other material encountered during excavation.

View full module detail

  • Module 2. Introduction to Post-Excavation Processing and Recording. On completion, the student will be able to:
    • apply all routine post-excavation protocols and procedures;
    • categorise and date a wide range of archaeologically excavated artefacts;
    • formulate an appropriate approach to the processing and initial recording of excavated artefacts and environmental samples;
    • conduct a preliminary classification of excavated artefacts and environmental samples with a view to appropriate storage and further specialist analysis;
    • synthesise data from each element within the site archive to facilitate the production of preliminary interpretations.

View full module detail

The programme 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. 

Applications are handled by our partner Blackfriary Archaeology Field School (BAFS) and this programme will be offered twice in 2023. You may choose whichever suits you best (subject to availability). 

  • Session 1: May 9th – June 2nd 2023
  • Session 2: June 6th – June 30th 2023

Visit for more information on fees, accommodation and delivery

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.


  • 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

Course ID TBC
Course Type Flexible & Professional
Study Mode Full-Time
Level 8
Duration 4 Weeks
Starting Date May 2023 and June 2023
School School of Business & Humanities
Department Humanities
Credits 12.5
Awarding Body Dundalk Institute of Technology
Delivery Method Blended

How To Apply

Blackfriary Archaeology Field School (BAFS) Application

Apply to the programme by completing the BAFS Student Application Form and sending your completed form, along with two letters of recommendation, to