Community Archaeology in Fingal

Archaeology is about people in the past, and Community is about people in the present. Community archaeology is about connecting people to their past in a unique and collaborative way.

There is no one accepted definition for community archaeology and the term can encompass building, geophysical, landscape and topographic surveys; oral history and school based projects; graveyard restoration; archive research; heritage trails and signage;  citizen scientist projects, field schools and summer camps in addition to archaeological excavation. Therefore community archaeology is a partnership between community members and professional archaeologists. It is important to note that archaeological excavation, geophysical survey and the use of a metal detector require a licence issued (to those eligible) through the National Monuments Service. 


Community Archaeology Geophysical Survey

Fingal County Council has recognised the value of community archaeology for a number of years and alongside the Heritage Council has supported various community archaeology initiatives in Fingal. These have allowed hundreds of people realise their ambition to take part in digs, learn new skills alongside professional  archaeologists, and connect with their local archaeological sites and monuments. You can follow our ongoing projects on Fingal Cultural Heritage and Community Archaeology Facebook page

  Community Archaeology - More Questions than Answers?

Fingal Community Archaeology Strategy

Fingal County council is forming a strategy for Community Archaeology in Fingal and we need your input. Community archaeology is a valuable way of engaging locals and tourists alike with what makes our locality distinctive. Please help us by taking two minutes to fill in the form at this link

Deadline is 30 September 2018

Swords Castle: Digging History 2015-2017

Community Archaeology Swords Castle

Three seasons of excavation were undertaken to try and fill in the series of ‘knowledge gaps’ identified in the Swords Castle Conservation Plan 2014 (link). Although it is the best surviving example of a Dublin Archbishop’s palace and was an important administrative centre there are limited historical records. The excavations have confirmed the presence of burials and settlement in the 10th and 11th centuries-before the construction of Swords castle; previously unknown walls, and kilns have been uncovered; storage pits and fish gutting areas have been discovered while one of the largest environmental assemblage outside medieval Dublin has been retrieved. To look back on the excavation see  Post-excavation analysis is ongoing and there will a publication of results in 2019. The preliminary reports are available here:

Swords Castle Digging History Season 1

Swords Castle Digging History Season 2

Swords Castle Digging History Season 3

 The award-winning Swords Castle: Digging History project has also incorporated other elements including Swords Archaeofest in 2015; Swords Castle: My Castle a photographic exhibition curated by artist Andrew Carson and two film pieces, also by Andrew Carson; Memories (link  Where local people were interviewed about their memories of Swords castle and a companion piece Participation ( link which involved the by filming the excavation and interviewing the participants and supporters of the project. In 2017 the Fingal Arts Office commissioned artists to interpret the results of the analysis of the seeds and plants from the dig as part of the All Bread is Made of Wood project.

Swords Castle Digging History Archaeology Ireland Article

Bremore Castle Big Dig 2017

Community Archaeology Bremore Castle

The Bremore Castle Big Dig 2017 was developed as a way of re-engaging local people with Bremore Castle while restoration works remain ongoing. Medieval Bremore is tied to the prominent Anglo-Norman family, of the Barnewalls. Reginald de Barnewall acquired lands in Bremore in the early fourteenth century and by the close of that century the Barnewalls were described as the lords of Bremore, Balrothery and Balbriggan. Historical evidence records that Bremore Castle had been attacked and burnt during the Confederate wars of the 1640s; probably rebuilt in the in the early 1660s and ceased to have been a principal residence by the early 1700s. Almost one hundred volunteers aged from 18 to 90 years old established the presence of a previously unknown ditch close to the surviving southern wall of Bremore Castle, and a seventeenth century yard metalled surface which extended throughout what is now the walled garden, as well as Victorian paths.‌

  Bremore Castle Final Report

Digging Drumanagh 2018

Community Archaeology Drumanagh

Drumanagh promontory fort is a nationally important archaeological site and is of international significance in terms of Ireland’s relationship with the Roman world. Digging Drumanagh is the first scientific excavation ever undertaken at the site. The focus of the excavation was the nineteenth century Martello road and the effect of its construction on the layers below. Most of the evidence and finds related to that period but there were hints of what came before including two decorated long handled combs dating to the Iron Age. Post-excavation analysis is ongoing.

Drumanagh Promotory Fort-Conservation Study 7 Management Plan 2018-2023

Drumanagh Preliminary Report

Who does community archaeology?

Community Archaeology Volunteers

The short answer is everyone. Participants have been aged from 18 to 90 and have included locals, people from the wider Fingal area; people who have travelled from different parts of Ireland; tourists; members of the new communities; family groups; Fingal County Council staff members; members of other community archaeology groups, heritage professionals and students. If you have an idea for a project or your community group requires support, please contact Fingal’s Community Archaeologist.

 Adopt a Monument Manual

Community Archaeologist

The Community Archaeologist is based in the Strategic Planning and Infrastructure Department and works across the Council providing specialist advice and guidance on archaeological matters. The position is supported by the Heritage Council. One of the main functions of the Community Archaeologist is to engage the public with Fingal’s archaeological resource. This involves designing and undertaking community-based archaeological projects such as the Swords Castle Digging History project, Bremore Castle Big Dig and Digging Drumanagh. Providing support and advice to local groups with an interest in archaeology and history is a priority, both on an individual basis and by organizing seminar and information days. The Community Archaeologist is responsible for disseminating the results of community archaeological projects and for reaching new audiences through the production of accessible publications, heritage-based tourism products, public exhibitions and social media. 

Contact: Christine Baker, Community Archaeologist

Tel:  01 8905691

Email: [email protected]