Location: Slievemore, Achill Island, Ireland
Dates: 3 July 2017 – 11 August 2017 (option to come for 2 – 6 weeks)
Cost: €1975/ €3995 /€4850 (Course fees includes tuition, self-catering accommodation, materials, local transport, lectures and seminars and academic credit).
Training / Experience: None
Students excavating at the ‘Cromlech’ Roundhouse in 2015. Inset, the anthropomorphic beach cobble found in 2015 (Photo: Stuart Rathbone).
In 2014 the Achill Archaeological Field School began work on an enigmatic monument on the slopes of Slievemore mountain, Achill Island. The monument, dubbed ‘Cromlech Tumulus’ by antiquarians, comprises an irregular mound with protruding orthostats. For over 175 years archaeologists have argued over what the site actually is. As the name suggests it was initially through to be a megalithic burial monument, although later scholars disputed this interpretation.
Excavations at the site by the AAFS (2014-16) have revealed a much more complicated history. The ‘Cromlech’ is in fact a large Middle Bronze Age roundhouse with superimposed later medieval and post-medieval huts. The roundhouse is abutted by two pre-bog walls and forms part of a broader prehistoric landscape that extends across Slievemore. The interior of the roundhouse contained a dense concentration of pits and postholes, one of which held the site’s most extraordinary find: a worked beach cobble depicting a human face. The find is hugely significant and is among a tiny handful of examples of anthropomorphic art from Bronze Age Ireland.
In 2017 AAFS will return to the ‘Cromlech’. The excavation will focus on the area around the entrance to the roundhouse and a segment of pre-bog field wall.