GIS and predictive modelling as a tool for the identification of caves of archaeological significance in Ireland

Profile of Student

The candidate should:

–           Hold a primary degree in Archaeology, Geography, GIS or related discipline (Grade 2:1 or 1H).

–          Have previous employment or experience with GIS

–          Have access to own transport (fieldwork will be an integral aspect of the project)

–          Be self-motivated

–          Hold strong research and fieldwork skills

–          Have experience in surveying

An interest in caves or cave archaeology would be an advantage.

 Description of Project

Over 850 caves are located on the island of Ireland, with concentrations in counties Clare, Cork, Galway, Leitrim, Sligo and Fermanagh. Of these, in the region of 150 caves have some form of evidence to indicate that they are of archaeological or historical significance. Caves have been used from the Mesolithic through to modern times for a variety of purposes ranging from veneration and burial to occupation and hideaway. Caves were of particular significance in the Neolithic and Bronze Age where they formed important foci for ritual and funerary activities, and also in the Early Medieval period when caves were adapted for habitation and storage.

The purpose of this MSc project is to analyse available archaeological data to discern patterns in the types of caves that were favoured for use at particular times and for particular periods. This would include an analysis of cave morphology, entrance orientation, the nature of the cave (dry/active) and the archaeological and topographical location of the site on the landscape. Employing fieldwork and GIS, this data would then be used to locate additional caves that may potentially be of archaeological significance.

MSc research project will be based at I.T. Sligo, under the supervision of Dr. Marion Dowd, though the student need not necessarily reside in Sligo. The masters would form part of a wider suite of research projects focussed on Irish cave archaeology. The candidate would be supported and encouraged to publish her/his findings and present at conferences in the course of postgraduate research.

The successful recipient will receive from I.T. Sligo a maintenance grant of €6,500 each year for two years. Tuition fees (currently €2,319 per annum) will be paid by I.T. Sligo. The successful student is required to pay her/his registration fee and HETAC examination fee. The registration fee for 2010-2011 is €1,500 p.a. The HETAC examination fee is a single payment of €200. The total annual award will be €8,819. This does not preclude the student from applying for a second grant.

Reference: Chamberlain, A.T. 2003 Predictive modelling of archaeological caves. Cave and Karst Science 29, 91.

For further information contact:

2017/18 Prospectus