Project Description


This field school offers students a unique prehistoric excavation opportunity, from a spectacular hillfort location. At 21 hectares, Penycloddiau hillfort is one of the largest pre-Roman Iron Age sites in the UK, and the biggest hillfort in Wales. It is located on the Clwydian hill-range, in North Wales and at 430 meters above sea level, the site provides spectacular views over coastal western Britain. The 2017 season will provide students with a solid understanding of the full range of practical and professional skills involved in the archaeological process. Through our excavations at Penycloddiau, we intend to discover when and why people first began to join together in these very large community-level groups. Our research will focus on the stratigraphy of the architecture, and its meaning for the evolution of community organization, social change, and everyday life at Penycloddiau and beyond.

Download Syllabus

Course Details

  • Course Dates: Jul 16-Aug 12, 2017
  • Enrollment Status: OPEN
  • Total Cost: $4,300
  • Course Type: Field Archaeology
  • Payment Deadline: April 21, 2017
  • Instructors: Dr. Rachel Pope FSA, Richard G. Mason
  • Orientation:  April 30, 8:00am Los Angeles Time
Apply Now


The directors welcome emails and inquiries about the research elements of this project. More general information (tuition, health insurance, and payment schedule) can be found under the ‘Students’ tab above. Any further questions may be addressed to IFR staff. Additional details about research, course schedule, travel, accommodation, and safety can be found on the syllabus. Contacting the directors or the IFR office is encouraged and appreciated. It may help you determine if this field school is a good fit for you.

Dr. Rachel Pope
Dr. Rachel Pope
Dr. Pope is a Senior Lecturer and the Director of Fieldwork at the Department of Archaeology, Classics and Egyptology, University of Liverpool, (UK).
Richard G. Mason
Richard G. Mason
Assistant Curator of Collections, English Heritage


My field season at Penycloddiau was one of the most fun, challenging, and informative experiences I have had as a student of archaeology. The entire staff is passionate about the site and committed to engaging students in the archaeology of the hill fort. This field school has an amazing emphasis on learning, with instruction in excavation techniques, survey, environmental processing, and archaeological drawing. I appreciated the field trips and background about nearby hill forts that gave me a regional perspective as well as great views of the Welsh countryside. This field school is incredibly well run and I met so many great people, students and professionals alike. The experience truly rounded out my excavation skills and made me fall even more in love with fieldwork.
Emily Brennan, George Washington University (2015)
My experience at Penycloddiau was more valuable to my education as an archaeologist than most of the classes I’ve taken at University. There’s no substitute for working in the field with practicing professionals. Dr. Pope and her staff were not only excellent educators, but also seasoned professionals. They taught us a wide variety of skills, and how to leverage them in our future careers. The conditions at Penycloddiau are great for learning what it takes to be a part of a crew on a dig.
Hans Whitefield, University of New Mexico (2014)
The UK-Penycloddiau archaeological field school organised by the IFR gives students an opportunity to experience the realities of archaeological fieldwork. Not only is there detailed instruction in excavation techniques, but recording, illustration, surveying, environmental sampling and archaeological theory are taught as well. Simply put, students receive detailed theoretical and practical training in a whole range of important archaeological techniques while working on a highly important site. Co-directors Rachel Pope and Richard Mason are excellent instructors as well as being professional archaeologists, and provide students with information that only experienced veterans of the field could. In conclusion, learning archaeology at Penycloddiau is a chance that nobody who intends to pursue professional work should miss.
Matthew Giesbrecht, University of Manitoba (2014)
“As students, we spend the majority of our time at Penycloddiau Hillfort, the excavation site, learning from an experienced and extremely friendly group of archaeologists. The staff are very approachable; they’re happy and eager to answer any questions posed to them.. I feel like my money was well spent. This morning I found myself out in the field working on a real excavation, troweling through the dirt, acting as a member of a real archaeological research team. I have to be honest, I am literally having the time of my life right now. If you are looking for a proper school in archaeology, I can see no better than the field school at Penycloddiau. Given the opportunity, I would return in a heartbeat. If you are interested in conducting any CRM (cultural resource management) work back in the states, you need to check out this field school… I’m telling you right now, do not miss out on this opportunity to do some real archaeology; your academic and professional career will certainly thank you for it! Dr Rachel Pope and Rich Mason have created an environment where learning comes quick and easy. It is their passion for archaeology that really makes this school great. In addition, they are equally passionate about their students’ success. This has been one of the greatest experiences of my life and I have them to thank for it.”
Matt Diener, California State University San Bernardino (2013)

Tuition Includes:

  • Costs of instruction
  • Room & board
  • All local transportation

Student Fees

A deposit of $500 is required. Once your application is accepted, the deposit fee secures your seat in this project. This program requires an application. There is no application fee. Only accepted students are provided with the link to pay the deposit fee.

  • A 2.5% Processing Fee is automatically assessed for all credit/debit card payments
  • A $100 Late Fee will be assessed if full tuition payment is not completed by the deadline.
  • Look at the field school syllabus above for room & board details.


Students will live in relative comfort in an outdoor center in the picturesque village of Burwardsley, Cheshire. We have a well-equipped kitchen, modest communal space, indoor toilets, showers, shared washing facilities, an outdoor seating area, and a campfire in the woods. Sleeping is in shared, single-sex bunk rooms. There is not a lot of room for storage and we request that you only bring one item of luggage, as space is restricted. Bedding is not provided, so please also bring a sleeping bag. There is lots of outdoor space for tents, and camping is recommended for those valuing their own privacy and personal space. There is a washing machine which will be available for use on our days off.

All meals will be communal and our dig chef can cater for vegetarian, vegan, and kosher diets, as well as wheat and lactose intolerance, and nut allergies. Breakfast and lunch are provided. Dinner will be served in the evenings at around 6.30 pm. There will be a rota for off-site communal-living tasks such as washing-up, preparing breakfast, cleaning, etc. We maintain a small dig library at the accommodation of texts on practical approaches to excavation/recording, survey, finds, and formation processes.

Travel Info

Students should rendezvous outside the University of Liverpool’s Department of Archaeology on Sunday July 16th at 12 noon. Whether you are arriving at Heathrow, Manchester, or Liverpool airports, you can take the train to Liverpool Lime Street train station (use this website to find out train times and book tickets: The Department is just 0.5 miles from the train station at 12 Abercromby Square (no. 146 on the campus map:

Student Safety

Student safety is paramount for the IFR. Unlike many universities who are self-insured, the IFR purchases a range of high end insurance policies from some of the largest insurers in the world. Students in all our international programs have a comprehensive health insurance policy. It covers sickness, and chronic and mental health conditions at 100% of the cost. We have a strong evacuation and extraction policy. We can remove students from any location anywhere in the world with one phone call – whether medical evacuation, political or natural disaster extraction and anything in between. We purchase intelligence services from a global private provider and monitor the world 24/7. We automatically enroll our students to the US State Department STEP program. All of our students receive safety orientations both before and on the first day of each program. Our faculty have all been working in the areas where we operate field schools for years. They are intimately familiar with local customs and traditions, know the landscape well and have deep relationships with local communities.

All our domestic programs are coordinated with local authorities which are informed of our operations. Students in domestic programs are covered by their own health insurance and evacuations are managed by local emergency services, as appropriate.

The IFR has strong, explicit and robust policy towards discrimination and harassment in the field (click here for a shortcut). If students feel they cannot discuss personal safety issues with the field school staff, the IFR operates an emergency hotline where students can contact IFR personnel directly.

Travel does involve risk, but we try to minimize this risk as much as possible. Call us at 877-839-4374 or email us at if you have questions about the safety of particular programs.