IFR: Ireland - Spike Island Field School
97% Rating
(3 Reviews)

IFR: Ireland - Spike Island Field School

This field school is part of a larger research project that examines the archaeology of the 19th century prison on Spike Island, Ireland’s Alcatraz. The prison at Spike Island was tied into the British imperial system of power as in the early years of its operation, it was one of the main holding centers for Irish convicts transported to Australia and to Bermuda. Archaeology provides a means of investigating daily life in the prison and the triangle of relationships between convicts, warders and the institution while also providing a means of investigating the roles of incarceration and transportation within British imperialist systems. For more information visit the field school website.

Europe » Ireland
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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 (3)

Default avatar
32 years old
Muncie, Indiana
Ball State University

A Summer I'll Never Forget


The Spike Island archaeological field school was by far one of the best experiences I have ever had! During the excavation, I was engaged in every aspect of the work, learning invaluable skills that I will carry on throughout my career. The supervisors were supportive and challenging, encouraging us as we completed our work. The island and surrounding scenery is beautiful and engaging, I couldn't help but look on in awe some days on my way to the excavation sites. And as far as my fellow students go, I can honestly say I have never been a part of such an amazing group of people before. I have made friends for life that I will carry in my heart, no matter where I go. If you are looking for a one of a kind experience, then I definitely suggest the Spike Island field school.

How can this program be improved?

If I had to change anything in this program, I would honestly make it longer. I seriously could have spent more time learning from these great people, it was tough to go home.

Default avatar
24 years old
Mills College

Probably the best way to be introduced to fieldwork


The staff are not only dedicated to doing quality work, but also to ensuring that students understand not only the how of excavation but also the why. It's an extremely supportive environment, and you're encouraged to ask questions. Days start early and end late, but you get breaks throughout the day and are well fed. You also get to work under a variety of supervisors, as you get rotated around trenches (usually weekly) so you get to experience a range of different soils, trenches, and artifacts. There's lecture and lab, even though you're living on an island, and IFR students are required to write a short paper during your time there. Weekends are free time to do as you please, and Friday's are half days so you have time to take your laundry to the mainland. Cobh is a beautiful town, and is readily accessible to Cork which has plenty to do and experience.

How can this program be improved?

A little more lab analysis would have been nice; however, due to the program being on an island only accessible by ferry, this restriction is understandable.

Response from Institute for Field Research

Thank you for your review, Erica! We pride ourselves on providing our students with high quality research environments where they can learn and grow as scholars.

-- The IFR Team

Default avatar
24 years old
University of Michigan

Experience of a Life Time


The Spike Island Field School is most wonderful learning experience for a person interested in the criminal justice system and archaeology. With bioarcheology being the main focus, students would learn first hand experience of removing artifacts from the context (matrix or "dirt"), without damaging anything fragile. The learning experience is great as well as meeting new people. From USA to Canada to France and of course Ireland, you manage to learn from different perspectives and gain friends a long the way. Besides You live with them on the Island for the whole month. (Weekends you are able to leave the Island to venture off and enjoy the country). The faculty is great with offering you any answers to your questions even if you are new or old to anthropology or archaeology.

How can this program be improved?

I honestly have nothing to add to change the program. I actually enjoyed my time.

Response from Institute for Field Research

Thank you for your review, Sereen! Thanks to great students like you, we can continue offering wonderful learning experiences.

-- 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