International Fieldschool Hill of Slane 8th-13th April 2012
The Hill of Slane International Fieldschool held on the Hill of Slane over the Easter break was a major success. In the end, eighteen students from 11 different countries around the world made their way to Slane for the week. Early arrivals on Easter Saturday were in time to take part in the first ever Flame of Slane festival. They reported that this was a very exciting way to start off the week!
A very wide range of activities was carried out over the course of the week and all participants had a chance to get ‘hands-on’ experience with handling the equipment. After each day of fieldwork there was a further two hours of work for the participants back at base – Slane Farm Hostel – where we were very lucky to have the use of a multi-purpose room which we turned into a computer lab/seminar space. The weather also helped greatly with conditions steadily improving over the course of the week making the fieldwork that little bit easier and on the last day we were visited by Philip Bromwell with RTE Six-One news who did a piece on the fieldschool and the positive benefit to the Slane community.
A huge amount of behind-the-scenes planning went into the organisation of the fieldschool. Much of the geophysical and survey equipment as well as tuition was provided by Kevin Barton of Landscape and Geophysical Services. The planning of the fieldschool had to be meticulous to ensure that each participant had adequate experience of each technique and Kevin drew up a very complex schedule which made perfect sense once the week started.
Anthony, Rob and Gary from the Discovery Programme came along for two days – the Tuesday and Wednesday and kindly brought their terrestrial laser-scanning equipment and provided demonstrations and tuition. They also managed to scan some very nice 3-D models of the upstanding buildings as well, particularly the College.
Piotr, Michał and Asia from the University of Warsaw brought their equipment – a specially designed kite and balloon for low-level aerial photography. Some really spectacular images resulted from this module. Ground control points were used for some of the images so these can be rectified (corrected) and Irish National Grid coordinates can be applied. Piotr also played a major part in the tuition of the magenetic gradiometry and he even managed to conduct some experiments comparing some slightly different approaches to the data gathering. The results will be interesting!
Thanks also to the Irish Archaeology Field School who very kindly lent us their minibus to ferry the participants between the hostel and the hill each morning and evening. We are also very grateful for the support we received from the ArchaeoLandscapes Europe Project who provided grant assistance for a number of the participants to travel to Ireland to take part in the field school. The publicity we received through their website was also a major factor in the success of the week. We are also grateful to the local landowners who granted us access to their lands for our activities and also to the Office of Public Works who own the publicly accessible part of the hill.