top of page
CC Caherconnell Cashel.jpg

The Caherconnell Project
Excavating the Irish Human Story
The Burren, Ireland

Exclusive Small Group Archaeology Trip with Ancient Odysseys®

Group Size: Max 20

Ages: 18+

Or

About The Caherconnell Project Archaeology Dig in Ireland

The Caherconnell Project is your chance to join an exclusive excavation of an important fortress complex within the world-famous Burren karst landscape of western Ireland. This is the first time that archaeology fieldwork at this location has been made available specifically to travelers. Choose from a thoughtfully curated 11-day dig + itinerary or attend 5-days of archaeological fieldwork at Caherconnell. For both the dig and itinerary, all accommodations and transportation and most meals are covered!

The area around Caherconnell is important in understanding Ireland’s past. Caherconnell is a well-preserved, multi-period archaeological complex, rich in sites and artefacts. The Burren, where Caherconnell is located, has had a high concentration of human activity over a long period of time.

 

Caherconnell itself is home to four stone forts. The site has yielded evidence of habitation from the Irish Neolithic (circa 4000 BC) right through to late medieval times (circa late 17th century AD). The largest stone fort on the site has produced evidence that high-status Gaelic lords lived, farmed, ruled, and manufactured objects made of precious metals here. The incredible preservation of both artefacts and monuments found at Caherconnell are providing researchers details and a deeper understanding of the entire Irish human story from native settlement, economics, and politics through time.

How you will make an impact

The Caherconnell Project continues to surprise archaeologists. The richness and excellent preservation of its archaeological remains mean there is much work to be done to assist the researchers in excavating as many of Caherconnell’s component sites as possible. By aiding the archaeologists with their work on-site, you will become an integral part of the project’s success. Ultimately, you will have a hand in both the discoveries and the visitor experience. The work you are joining at Caherconnell will be featured in several publications related to the research project. And, once this site is fully excavated, it will form part of the visitor experience at the site.

Jump to

Itinerary | Archaeology Work | Meet the Scientist | Trip Cost

Archaeology Work

July 14, 2024 | Arrival in Ireland + Welcome Dinner

Ireland travels with Ancient Odysseys

Participants arrive in Dublin or Shannon Airports and are picked up and transferred to the Old Ground Hotel in Ennis. 

Located in the center of the attractive medieval town of Ennis, County Clare, the hotel provides an ideal starting point from which to explore the famous attractions of Ireland's west coast. A former manor house dating back to the 18th century, this ivy-clad residence has been totally refurbished to provide the warmth of a country home with the style of a luxury hotel.

There will be a group welcome dinner tonight for the group to get to know each other before a fun and interesting week together.

Accommodation: Old Ground Hotel in Ennis - Double Occupancy

Meals: Dinner

July 15-19, 2024 | Archaeological Excavation at Caherconnell Project

Archaeological artifacts from Caherconnell in Ireland

The next morning begins your five-day excavation of the Caherconnell Ring Fort. The dig includes all accommodations, transportation to and from the digsite, most meals and specialy curated activities. 

 

Caherconnell is a highly productive site, with a large quantity of ongoing finds made regularly. The 2024 excavation includes excavation work on the third fort to be excavated at the Caherconnell complex. You will be hands-on for the entire five days of this excavation, learning the methods of archaeological excavation and archaeological recording. This will allow all participants to immerse themselves in the excavation, collection and study of everything from artifacts to large landscape features dating from 2200 BC to about 800 AD. And make no mistake-this location is absolutely loaded with both!

Due to the high quality of preservation at Caherconnell (of everything from artefacts to large landscape features), researchers believe that the work being undertaken here in western Ireland can enlighten our understanding of the entire Irish story, far beyond the borders of the Burren.

During your 5-day excavation, your days will consist of:

  • Each day, the group will be picked up at 8am and driven to the dig site where you will meet the archaeologists and begin fieldwork at  Caherconnell. The group will return to the hotel by 5.45pm.

  • Archaeological fieldwork begins at 9am and ends at 5pm each day.

  • All tools for archaeological excavation are provided, along with dedicated on-site training, instruction, and supervision.

  • Mid-morning break of tea, coffee and pastries in addition to lunch and beverages are included each day at the onsite café.

  • This location is within walking distance of a visitor centre, which includes bathrooms and a café.

  • You will also have use of field-school facilities at the centre, which includes a locker for every participant and indoor workspace in the event of heavy rain.

  • The cost of the dig includes funds to support the archaeological fieldwork and research at Caherconnell, including a contribution to artifact conservation, radiocarbon dating. 

Additional activities included during the course of the dig:

  • Private sheepdog demonstration.

  • Private access to a guided tour of the Caherconnell site and farm walk with a view of Galway Bay. 

  • July 16-Visit to Poulnabrone after day of excavation The group will enjoy a tour of Poulnabrone Dolmen. Situated on the high Burren limestone plateau, Poulnabrone Dolmen is one of Ireland’s most iconic archaeological monuments and is the oldest dated megalithic monument in Ireland. Enjoy a fascinating history lesson and some light refreshments here before transferring back to your hotel.

  • July 18-Evening walking tour of The Burren. One of Ireland's most compelling landscapes, the cool grey rock etched with crevices and cracks tumbles down to the wild blue Atlantic Ocean. Enjoy this fascinating walking tour of this enthralling landscape with informative and entertaining commentaries on the geology, flora, archaeology, wildlife and farming of the region, along with some light refreshments before transferring back to your hotel..

  • July19-The group will enjoy a farewell dinner in Ennis at a restaurant/pub with live Irish music.

 

Accommodation: Old Ground Hotel in Ennis

Meals included during the course of the dig: Breakfast, lunch, mid-morning break and drinks included each day. On the first and last days, you will enjoy welcome and farewell dinners. All other days, dinner is on your own. 

Excavation trip ends after breakfast on July 20. 

Travelers can continue on an extended travel itinerary listed below.

What to Bring for the Archaeology Dig

Guided archaeological training in Ireland

Yuo will be working under the supervision of the archaeologists, but the tasks associated with working on an excavation can involve certain risks. Excavation work may involve difficult conditions, uneven terrain (a definite in the Burren!) unanticipated natural hazards, use of digging equipment, and/or strenuous manual labor. (This, too, is a definite in the rocky landscape of this region). A general level of fitness is necessary for excavations, such as walking over uneven ground every day, walking up and down steps and inclines, kneeling, filling and carrying buckets of soil and stones. Most if not all activities will occur outdoors and are subject to the weather. 

The Irish weather is notoriously changeable - rain, wind, sun all in one day; and sometimes even all at once! Generally, though, none of these are too extreme in summer and are easily managed with appropriate clothing.The karst landscape of the Burren provides an uneven surface underfoot so a certain level of care and mobility is required.

 

  • Hiking or work boots

  • Waterproof jacket

  • Waterproof over-trousers

  • Work/gardening gloves (more than one pair)

  • A change of shoes. We change out of work boots when we go inside

  • Sun hat

  • Sunscreen

  • Travel insurance needed

Old Paper Transparent

   An interview with Michelle Comber | Archaeologist, The Caherconnell Project

Caherconnell Michelle Comber, archaeologist who heads dig in Ireland
  1. What makes Caherconnell significant?

    It is a multiperiod complex with excellent preservation (and individually intriguing sites within the complex!). It therefore has allowed us to fil in some blanks in the story of the Irish past. It is also an excellent example of academia working with landowners/local community.

  2. What has been most surprising about your discoveries at Caherconnell

    The complex has an incredibly long time span and it appears to have been continuously used, even throughout centuries of medieval unrest. It’s also become clear to us that the complex is much older than previously thought. There is also an impressive richness to the artefact assemblage, dating from the prehistoric to the medieval.

  3. What are your current research objectives at Caherconnell?

    Our work aims to determine function, date, and relationships of all the sites within the Caherconnell complex. And to trace continuity and change over the millennia of its habitation.

  4. What was the most important or rewarding find at Caherconnell?I
    t’s almost impossible to pick one find from the thousands of artefacts we’ve unearthed over the years. I would say that the discovery of the oldest ink pen in Ireland is hugely significant in that it implies so much about the site and its inhabitants.

 

Learn more about what the Caherconnell Project dig entails!

Watch this video featuring Michelle Comber to have all your questions about Caherconnell and the dig experience answered!

 

And, for your listening pleasure, enjoy this fascinating podcast about Caherconnell from Clare-FM.   

More about Ireland's oldest ink pen found at Caherconnell:

Smithsonian Magazine    Independent of Ireland     Archaeology Magazine

July 20, 2024 | Beginning of Added Itinerary | Aran Islands + Cliffs of Moher

Dun Aengus, Inishmore, Aran Islands 8_Web Size.jpeg

The Caherconnell Fort Project excavation program will end this morning after breakfast.

The group that is continuing with the remaining itinerary will transfer to Doolin where to take a ferry to Inis Mór, the largest of the three Aran Islands. A highlight for visitors is Dun Aonghasa, an Iron Age fort perched precariously atop a 100-meter-high cliff face. You will enjoy a guided tour of the island with a local guide before you return to the mainland. This experience is provided by native Islanders who are passionate about their home, their language and their culture.

Join a group dinner this evening in Doolin. You will also get to experience a guided walk along the world-famous Cliffs of Moher and see the sun set over the wild Atlantic Ocean before returning to Ennis.

Accommodation: Old Ground Hotel in Ennis-Double Occupancy

Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

July 21-22, 2024 | Connemara + Renvyle Houose + Kylemore Abbey + Killary Fjord

add to your archaeology itinerary at renvyle_house.jpeg

July 21

Today the group will depart County Clare for Galway and the wilds of the Connemara region. You’ll enjoy a few photo stops before arriving at the inimitable Kylemore Abbey. Nestled in the heart of Connemara, on the Wild Atlantic Way, Kylemore Abbey is a haven of history, beauty and serenity. Home to a Benedictine order of Nuns for the past 100 years, Kylemore Abbey welcomes visitors from all over the world each year to embrace the magic of the magnificent 1,000-acre estate.

 

Renvyle House Hotel will be your home for the next two nights. First opened as a hotel in 1883, it is spectacularly located on a 150 acre estate on the shores of the Wild Atlantic Way in Connemara, Co. Galway. The grounds include a private freshwater lake for fishing and boating, a beach, woodlands, gardens and numerous activities on site including tennis, croquet, outdoor heated swimming pool, canoeing and shore angling.

You will have time this evening to relax on the grounds or participate in an onsite activity before a group dinner at the restaurant.

July 22

Enjoy a free morning to relax and enjoy a leisurely gourmet breakfast at Renvyle House. In the afternoon, the group will embark on a cruise of the serene Killary Fjord. Complete with an informative commentary outlining the natural and social history of the Fjord as well as the ancient mythology surrounding these waters and uninterrupted views of the “savage beauty” of North Connemara’s spectacular scenery, our tour will take you to the mouth of the Fjord, the gateway to the majestic Atlantic coast beyond, and offer unrivaled views of otherwise impossible to reach sections of the Wild Atlantic Way coastline. Return to Renvyle this evening for a group dinner at the hotel.

 

Accommodation: Renvyle House Hotel -Double occupancy

Meals: All Meals Included 

July 23-24, 2024 | Galway

Archaeology itinerary add on to Galway Ancient Odysseys

July 23

Weave your way back through Connemara towards civilization and the festival city of Galway. You will be here right in the middle of the Arts Festival which is a fortnight filled with color and will feature a wealth of theater, music, comedy, visual art, dance, and literary events.

 

The group might like to convene at The Crane Bar after dinner to enjoy some live music, or at the many other live music venues in town.

July 24

Today, you will visit the Galway City Museum with the rest of the day free to explore the city of Galway on your own.

Tonight you will enjoy a farewell dinner with your archaeologist friends as it is your last night in Galway.

Accommodation: Hyde Hotel in Galway City-Double occupancy, at one of Galway’s most stylish hotels.

Meals: 2 Breakfasts, Farewell Dinner

July 25, 2024 | Departure

Departure Ancient Odysseys Ireland

Your tour ends after breakfast.

 

Participants fly home from Dublin or Shannon Airports or continue with an add-on package.or your own arrangements.

 

Airport transfers are available upon request

Meals: Breakfast

Meet the scientist
price box
Citizen scientist on archaeology excavation

Dig Includes:

  • 6 nights accommodation based on 2 people, sharing double occupancy

  • Roundtrip transfers to and from the airport

  • Roundtrip transfers to and from the digsite every day

  • All breakfasts, morning and afternoon teas, lunches and 2 dinners

  • Poulnabrone visit

  • Burren Walking Tour excursion

  • Tax and services charge

  • Donation to the ongoing work being done by the researchers at Caherconnell

  • *Hotels and activities are subject to change

Participation is subject to availability and is at the full discretion of the dig location. 

Travel logistics are managed by Crystal Travel who are also available to assist with international flights. 

Book the Dig

bnn

5 day/6 night: July 14-20, 2024

From:

$4,899/pp

Early bird discount – book and submit non-refundable deposit of $1,100 on or before December 15th, 2023. Price based on double occupancy. Singles available for an extra fee.​

Caherconnell Fort from the air

Dig + Itinerary Includes:​

  • All that the Dig includes (see above) in addition to:

  • 5 more nights accommodation based on 2 people, sharing double occupancy

  • 5-day tour via luxury vehicle with driver-guide

  • Breakfast every day and 6 dinners

  • Aran Islands tour (Round-trip ferry from Doolin to Inis Mór + guided tour of the island and guided Sunset walk at the Cliffs)

  • Option to participate in an activity at Renvyle House

  • Entrance to Kylemore Abbey

  • Killary Fjord cruise 

  • Galway City Museum Tour

  • *Hotels and activities are subject to change

Travel logistics are managed by Crystal Travel who are also available to assist with international flights. 

Book the Dig + Itinerary

10 day/11 night: July 14-25, 2024

From:

$6,499/pp

Early bird discount – book and submit non-refundable deposit of $1,100 on or before December 15th, 2023. Price based on double occupancy. Singles available for an extra fee.

The Long Walk_Claddagh, Galway_8_001_Web Size.jpeg

TRIP EXCLUSIONS

  • Any meals, transfers or tours not mentioned above

  • Any items of personal nature such as excess baggage, laundry, telephone calls

  • Tips and gratuities to drivers, guides, hotel’s staff, restaurant’s staff

  • Personal, travel and health insurance

  • Early check in and late check out

  • Optional tours

  • International flight ticket (If you are interested in assistance booking international flights, please contact us. 

  • Visa fees and departure tax (if applicable)

  • Alcoholic beverages

  • University/academic credit is not included.​

Customize Your Itinerary

 

Join the Caherconnell dig and then customize your remaining itinerary any way you choose

$TBD

Contact us for details! 

Travel logistics are managed by Crystal Travel.

bottom of page