Bonsall, J. 2020. ‘Engaging the Community: The Kilcashel Landscape Project’. In Baker, C. (ed.) Partnership & Participation: Community Archaeology in Ireland. Wordwell, 26-38.
My latest publication, ‘Engaging the Community: The Kilcashel Landscape Project’ is a chapter in Christine Baker’s edited monograph Partnership & Participation: Community Archaeology in Ireland, which has just been published by Wordwell, with funding from the Heritage Council. The monograph features 20 chapters examining a wide range of community archaeology projects from across Ireland.
My paper assesses the notion of ‘community participation’ in the Kilcashel Landscape Project, describing how the local community of Kilmovee, Co. Mayo, were recruited to join in the research, which examined the archaeology of Kilcashel townland over a five-year period. The challenges faced by the archaeologist seeking to involve a community are examined—from over-ambitious aims and objectives to the recruitment of volunteers and contacting landowners. A pivotal aspect of community involvement was the collection of unique folklore that forms the Kilcashel Folklore Database. The research raised awareness of often-overlooked sites and helped to strengthen a positive relationship between the public and archaeology. The notion of ‘giving back’ to the community was implemented in a variety of ways, such as increasing computer skills and online learning, assisting in national and regional tourism initiatives and providing
links with the National Monuments Service. The community were taught to use various online resources to study their landscape, which in turn increased their own curiosity about historical family names and landscape change. Non-destructive investigations were carried out by a mixture of professional geophysicists and community volunteers. Some techniques required specialist and experienced (professional) practitioners only, whereas other techniques were easily used by non-specialists in a socially engaging atmosphere. The community involvement at Kilcashel continues long after the initial five-year project, greatly expanding the potential for future research avenues.
The Kilcashel Landscape Project was funded by The Heritage Council, Earthsound Archaeological Geophysics, and the Centre for Environmental Research Innovation And Sustainability at IT Sligo. You can purchase Partnership & Participation: Community Archaeology in Ireland from Wordwell.