About the Dig
Archaeology excavation sites on Achill Island.
Achill Archaeological Field School provides opportunities for students to actively participate in the archaeology excavations at sites situated at Slievemore and elsewhere on Achill Island, that have been ongoing since 1991.
The inital Research Design in 1991 involved a detailed survey of the mountain from the 400' contour to the valley bottom over an area 1.5 miles long by 0.5 miles wide. In other words, a complete archaeological survey of a known prehistoric and historic landscape.
Two vernacular houses were excavated in the The Deserted Village, House 36 and House 23. The houses date to c. 1750 A.D. Two phases of roadway were also dsicovered during excavations as well as an unclassified site that consisted of a small circuar stone-built chamber with associated passageway.
From 2007 to 2011, investigations extended upslope on the mountain where a series of prehistoric sites are located. Two Middle Bronze Age round-houses and associated prehistoric field walls were excavated. This was followed in 2011 by the excavation of two stone-built hut sites situated on a platform downslope from the round houses.In 2012, the Field School was involved in two research excavtions, the first at the former home of Captain Charles Boycott whose name added a new word to the English language and the second at the site of an unclassified megalithic tomb.
In 2013, the Field School plans to return to the deserted village to continue our investigation of the prehistoric and historic landscape at this location. We are also planning to excavate a late medieval tower house at Kildavent.
Slievemore Mountain is also the location of an impressive number of megalithic tombs of the court and portal type that are located between elevations of 50' and 600' O.D., at the eastern end of Slievemore. Close by at the same elevation are two groups of small, rather unusual hut sites that overlook Slievemore Graveyard, the older part of which contains a series of equal-armed crossslabs, a holy well and other remains that indicate an early medieval presence in that area.
Two stone cashels of probable Iron Age or Early medieval date were recorded at Slievemore, the foundations of one still extant. An ancient tale, 'Tain Bo Fraoch', a subsidiary tale in 'Tain Bo Cuailnge' that recorded events in the Iron Age mentions the 'Cashels of Slievemore' as well as other monuments elsewhere on the island.
The Deserted Village, the most prominent site at Slievemore extends over an area of 2 kilometres and is easily the most popular site visited by tourists staying on the island.