Project Description


This UK field school is centred on student training, and offers 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 largest hillfort in the Wales. It is located on the Clwydian hill-range, in North Wales and at 440 meters above sea level, the site provides spectacular views over coastal western Britain. Our 2018 season will provide students with a solid understanding of the full range of practical skills involved in the archaeological process, to British professional standard. You will be working alongside the project directors in deconstructing and recording the prehistoric construction of the hillfort’s main rampart and investigating an earlier, Bronze Age phase of enclosure to achieve samples for radiocarbon dating. Through our excavations at Penycloddiau, we are discovering when and why prehistoric people first began to join together in these larger community-level groups. This is our final research season, and you will help us work out the stratigraphy of the hillfort architecture at Penycloddiau, and its meaning for the evolution of community organization, social change, and everyday life in prehistoric Britain and beyond.

Download Syllabus

Course Details

  • Course Dates: July 15-August 11, 2018
  • Enrollment Status: OPEN
  • Total Cost: $4,270
  • Course Type: Field Archaeology
  • Payment Deadline: April 20, 2018
  • Instructors: Dr. Rachel Pope FSA, Richard G. Mason
  • Online Orientation:  June 2, 2018, 10:00 AM PST
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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
  • Cost of Academic Credits
  • Room & board
  • All local transportation
  • Health Insurance

Student Fees

A nonrefundable deposit of $500 is required to secure a seat in this program.  This program requires an application (no application fee is requested). Only accepted students should pay the deposit fee. Deposit fee is part of the program Tuition. The remaining tuition, minus the $500 deposit, must be paid prior to the tuition deadline (see above under “Course Details”).

Important Note: If you were accepted to this program but did not cancel your participation by the tuition payment deadline, you are legally responsible for the full tuition regardless of attendance in this program. Please read the IFR Cancellation Policy for further clarification.

  • 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.


Accommodation will be in a local holiday cottage, or at a well-established camping/caravan park, just 12 minutes from site (4-star rating on TripAdvisor – facilities include hot showers, kitchen area, and access to a washing machines). Please bring a sleeping bag for bedding – and if you do wish to camp, a tent.

Meals will be communal, and we can cater for vegetarian diets. 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 food preparation, washing-up, etc.

Travel Info

Students should rendezvous outside the University of Liverpool’s Department of Archaeology on Sunday July 15th 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:

If your flight is delayed or you miss the groups designated meeting time, call or text project administrator. The cell phone number will be shared with all enrolled students. We will organize your safe transport to the dig accommodation.


While some countries impose minimum passport validity for arriving passengers, there is no such requirement for the United Kingdom. US citizens seeking entry are required to present a valid passport.  Students for this field school should enter the UK on a tourist visa.

Citizens of other countries, please visit the UK Embassy website at your home country for visa information.

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.