Students in 2015 excavating the foundations of a small cottage in the heart of the settlement at Keem Bay. (Photo: Achill Archaeological Field School)

Achill Archaeological Field School at Keem Bay, Keel West, Achill Island

This exciting excavation will see Achill Archaeological Field School return to the site of a pre-Famine rundale village at the stunning Keem Bay on Ireland’s Wild Atlantic Way. AAFS has been digging at the village since 2009, and the results so far have been fascinating. The village is first shown on a map dated 1776, and by 1838 it consisted of a cluster of some 40 houses perched on a south-facing slope overlooking the Atlantic. In the decade after the Famine the village was cleared to make way for an ‘improved’ field system.

Excavations at Keem have focused on two dwellings in the settlement. The excavations have provided important insights into the architecture and material culture of the community between the late-18th and early 19th century. The two houses excavated at Keem were single room byre-dwellings with central hearths, stone-lined drains, and thick drystone and earth walls. They yielded an assemblage of imported refined earthenwares, coarse earthenwares, glass beads, amethyst from a nearby quarry, copper alloy buttons and worked stone.

AAFS will return to Keem in 2017. The next season of excavation aims to clarify the chronology of the settlement by targeting a pair of superimposed building footprints.