IFR: Ireland - Blackfriary Field School
85% Rating
(2 Reviews)

IFR: Ireland - Blackfriary Field School

The Blackfriary Community Archaeology Project is a unique, hands-on opportunity for students to excavate the buried remains of a 13th century Dominican friary in the town of Trim, County Meath, Ireland. By ascertaining who was buried at the Black Friary, where they were buried and when, the bioarchaeological research will inform our understanding of the long-term relationship between the local townspeople and the friary. For more information visit the field school website.

Europe » Ireland
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Host Family
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Price Details
Connecticut College will award each student 8 semester credit units (12 quarter units). Tuition includes credit units, and room and board.

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Program Reviews (2)

Default avatar
24 years old
University of Western Australia

Great experience


I had a great time at Blackfriary, and the only criticisms I have are organisational ones that I think come from the fact they hadn't dealt with such a large group of students on site before.

The accommodation was much better than anything I expected, in luxurious self-contained housing next to the golf course with access to hotel facilities including a pool and sauna. The food was usual group catering, over boiled meat and veg. There is a large supermarket about 30min walk away, and a gas station 10min away.

The supervisors were on the whole wonderful, relaxed and helpful. My fellow students were some of the best people I've ever met and made the experience all the better. Beware that close quarters over long weeks of hard work will cause friction - but there was always an opportunity to get privacy and decompress.

I loved the time on site as it was some of the first real field experience I had, and it was a relaxed and supportive environment to learn in. The excursions off site tied in well to what we learnt, and offered a real sense of context.

I do wish that the emphasis on human burials in the description of the program had been fulfilled. They rotated us around the site in week-long chunks. It was luck as to who got assigned a burial when the rotation came, and if you got one you had a full week on it. If there was no burial available you missed out. I wasn't lucky. I was upset about that, as working on human remains in situ was the reason I chose the program.

I think this was the result of the big group I was in, but they could have rotated people through burials in 3 or 4 day chunks to give more people an opportunity to work on the thing that had attracted most of us to the program.

Overall, this is a wonderful, comfortable introduction to field archaeology in a country with a rich history - both in terms of human occupation and in archaeology. The supervisors are experienced and helpful, and the experience well worth it.

How can this program be improved?

The division of work could be restructured to give everyone a chance at working on a burial.

Response from Institute for Field Research

We are glad that you found a supportive learning environment at the Ireland - Blackfriary field school, Jess. It is unfortunate that you were unable to participate in the excavation of a burial. Part of the excitement of archaeology is never really knowing what you will find, and this occasionally leads to disappointment. We are happy that you found the experience worth it overall.

-- The IFR Team

Default avatar
24 years old
Madison, WI
University of Wisconsin- Madison

Fun in Trim


Academic rigor was not nearly as difficult as I faced in my 4 year university program but focused on independent research and a presentation. The staff did meet with us multiple times to ensure that we were on the right path. Majority of the staff was very knowledgeable and extremely willing to teach and connect with students. I was greatly disappointed that they did not ensure that every student got the chance to work on a burial. Part of this was due to luck and timing, but based on their emphasis of the biological aspect of archeology I expected to leave having worked on a burial. I did however get to handle human remains but very disappointed with my biological week. Food was terrible through the ifr program but the people in my group were amazing. You get a fish bowl effect as you literally spend all your time with your group for five weeks, but still fun and most everyone in the program were extremely close by the end of five weeks. I personally had a problem with one of the teachers. For whatever reason, this particular grad student who was supervising us in a cutting took a dislike to me personally and continually criticized everything I did in a non-constructive manner nor would she show any of us what to do. She even tried to have the site supervisor reassign me to post-ex (washing bones) for the week due to a non-pressing medical reason and you could tell she thoroughly disliked dealing with inexperienced students. We all questioned why she was working at a teaching field school. Other students also had problems with this particular grad student. All other supervisors and program leaders were absolutely wonderful, extremely supportive and eager to teach. I would highly recommend this program to anyone interested in Irish archaeology! Be prepared to do manual labor and realize this is not for those wanting to travel everyday. The work days are long and it is near impossible to leave Trim during the work week. Weekend are free so you can travel then. Trim is wonderful. They have delicious food in town. be prepared to learn a lot, explore trim castle, be apart of some really amazing archaeology and grow to love the sheep on site!

How can this program be improved?

The food through the IFR program was terrible. They tried to work with us, but by the end we were getting three of the same dinner every week. Most of us resorted to cooking together and getting supplemental food.

Response from Institute for Field Research

Beth, we are happy that you were able to conduct independent research as a part of this program, as it is a part of our mission to expose students to the research process. It is impressive that despite the difficulties you had with a challenging supervisor you were able to connect with the rest of the supportive staff on the project. Thank you for your honest review! We are constantly improving our programs based on our students' feedback. We hope you'll look back fondly on exploring Trim castle for years to come.

-- The IFR Team

About The Provider


The Institute for Field Research (IFR) was created in March 2011 by a group of leading academic archaeologists. Operating as an independent, nonprofit academic organization has allowed us to break down traditional institutional barriers and deliver archaeology field schools to students regardless of the university