Project Description


The village of Ribchester is nestled in the heart of Lancashire’s beautiful Ribble valley, but this tranquility obfuscates a long and complex past. The Roman fort was established in CE 72-3 as an auxiliary cavalry fort on the north bank of the river Ribble. It was first constructed by the twentieth legion, then occupied by the Ala II Asturum a Spanish auxiliary unit. In the 2nd century the fort was rebuilt and garrisoned by a Sarmatian cavalry unit. Each of these groups brought their own identity and their own interpretation of the Roman martial situation, leaving distinctive, but subtle traces in the archaeological record. Even today Ribchester’s heritage is challenging, the Sarmatian connection has led some to draw parallels between Ribchester and the mythology of King Arthur. As a result, the Fort is at risk of development, neglect and misinterpretation. This project aims to change local perspective by including a community element, understand the military situation and explore the changing relationship between soldiery and civilian identity during and after the Roman occupation.

The focus of the investigation is a large 30m by 10m trench just inside the fort’s north gate, opposite the granaries. The trench contains clay floored buildings, roads and the gatehouse, kiln fragments, slag, and manufacturing refuse pointing to a workshop. In the last two years of excavation we have found 2643 pottery sherds, 2973 fragments of animal bone, 483 pieces of tile, 301 fragments of glass, 704 iron nails, 1151 bits of slag and 245 small finds including over 45 coins. In 2017 we will excavate the workshop floors, the interior of the guard house and the external ditch. It looks like it will be a spectacular season.

Download Syllabus

Course Details

  • Course Dates: Jun 14-Jul 17, 2017
  • Enrollment Status: CLOSED
  • Total Cost: $4,360
  • Course Type: Field Archaeology
  • Payment Deadline: April 21, 2017
  • Instructors: Dr. Duncan Sayer, Dr. James Morris
  • Orientation:  April 23, 12:30pm Los Angeles Time
Program Closed


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. Duncan Sayer
Dr. Duncan Sayer
Dr. Sayer is a Reader in Archaeology at the University of Central Lancashire (UK).
Dr. James Morris
Dr. James Morris
Dr. Morris is a Lecturer in Archaeology at the University of Central Lancashire (UK).


Ribchester revisited was an incredible experience. Not only is the site extremely interesting (with lots to find!), but the training and guidance provided was invaluable. The laboratory training at the beginning of the program provided the base knowledge needed, and the continued on site learning and training allowed for the practical application of this knowledge. The skills we were taught went beyond basic excavating, planning, recording etc., as we were encouraged to engage with and interpret the archaeology we were uncovering within its broader context. Additionally, the public outreach aspect of the project allowed us to engage with the public and the locals to communicate and share what we were discovering. Beyond the educational aspect of the project, Ribchester revisited also takes part in a beautiful village with an incredible dig community. The landscape and scenery is gorgeous, and Ribchester is the quintessential British village. The dig has a strong sense of community, and the friendships formed last well beyond the duration of the excavation. The strongest testimony I can give is that I enjoyed the experience so much that I intend to return next year, and look forward to seeing everyone, and the trench, again!
Georgina Moore, Australia National University

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.


For the initial four nights in Preston students will be accommodated in university dorms. During the excavation students, supervisors and directors camp 50 yards from site in their own tents. Students are responsible for keeping the campsite tidy at all times. The project is very fortunate to have access to the Village Hall for use during the day as the finds processing facility or site office and in the evenings it provides shelter and a communal focus. This includes a fully equipped kitchen with cutlery and crockery, fridges, oven and two sinks. There is access to a washing machine during the project. Showers are hired in on a trailer and are good quality facilities powered from the mains electrics and bottled gas. Every day (except Monday which is the day off) food is provided in the evenings from a local catering business, and their shop, which is five min walk from site, provides the opportunity for people to purchase excellent bacon sandwiches during rest times if required.

Students on the project are organized into rotas and each day a small team will prepare lunch, do cleaning, tidying (campsite and grounds) and washing up. Participation in this is mandatory and will be organized fairly and equally amongst the participants. This is strictly maintained and participation is considered part of the assessment process. This means that the site and facilities are kept to a high standard which is important since we are informally monitored by the parish council and the community.

UK - Ribchester
UK - Ribchester

Travel Info

There will be two alternative meeting points on June 14th. Meeting point 1) Manchester Airport, opposite Joes Kitchen, Arrivals in terminal one at 14:00. Students arriving by train will be met at Preston train station at 16:00 –please make your way out of the train station side exit by the car park (i.e. not the main entrance with the ticket machines) there is plenty of space to wait under the shelter in the car park.

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.