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Updated: March 09, 2016

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Castles, Moats and Living History: Hands-On Archaeology & Anthropology Experiences Await You in Ireland This Summer

Excavate in a medieval castle and live at an Irish manorial estate this summer as you earn college units and learn about archaeology and applied cultural anthropology.

Under the leadership of Foothill Anthropology Instructor Sam Connell, Ph.D., the four-week field study program, which runs June 26–July 23,will transport you to medieval Ireland and the kingdom of Connacht, where the last high kings defended their country against invading English nobles in the 12th and 13th centuries.

Last year, 40 Foothill students participated in the Ireland field study program, which is based at Ballintober Castle in County Roscommon. This summer, you can participate in all aspects of the research project, including archaeological survey and excavation, as well as community development activities. You can even choose to live in a local village or the castle’s estate.

“Foothill’s Ireland field study program is a highly rewarding and invigorating experience for anyone,” says Mountain View’s Gene Lee, a retired senior and lifelong learner who has taken a variety of personal enrichment classes at Foothill. “I participated last summer and was impressed that the program offers genuine, deep immersion in Irish culture and history. You will make friends with the Ballintober villagers, as well as with enthusiastic archaeology students. With the learned guidance and personal contacts of the program’s instructors, you’ll also visit unique Irish locales and meet people that a typical tourist would never encounter.”

This year’s archaeological and anthropological project is a student-focused investigation of the ancient and modern medieval Irish landscape, as well as the complex relationships between people, castles and the countryside, according to Connell. The archaeology curriculum will consist of test excavations within the castle coupled with systematic foot survey and geophysical techniques such as ground-penetrating radar. The anthropology component will trace the community's relationship with castles through time. Further time will be spent participating in experimental archaeological research and learning medieval lifeways from experts at living history museums.

“Our program is more than cultural tourism,” Connell says. “This is an experience of a lifetime in which you directly take part in an important research project on medieval Ireland. We’ll also immerse ourselves in the modern community to understand the past.”

You’ll also earn 12 transferable units and complete an exciting program that includes anthropological fieldwork, coursework, group trips, service learning projects, and a living history experience. Throughout the program, you’ll discover how the application of applied anthropology pertains to the modern world.

No prior experience in anthropology is necessary. To date, more than 250 students and community members of all ages and abilities have participated in Foothill’s field study programs in locales such as Ecuador, Belize, and now Ireland. Last year, program participants included high school seniors, college-age students and retirees. The program is open to anyone who is at least age 18.

Attend an Information Session This Winter for Program Details

Learn about the Ireland field study program’s application procedure, curriculum, fees and travel details by attending a free information session January 20, February 17 or March 16 at noon and again at 6 p.m. in Room 3102. You need only attend one session. For more program information, call (650) 949-7197 or visit

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