Dr. James Bonsall BA (Hons) MSc MIAI
- Director, Fourth Dimension Prospection Ltd.
- Conference Secretary and Committee Member of the International Society for Archaeological Prospection
- Geophysicist, Europe’s Lost Frontiers Project
- Co-Director, The MASC Project: Monitoring the Archaeology of Sligo’s Coastline
- Co-Director, Great Connell Abbey Exploration Project, County Kildare
- Director, Kilcashel Landscape Project, County Mayo
- Member of the Centre for Environmental Research Innovation and Sustainability (CERIS)
- Member of the Wild Atlantic Way Research Cluster
- Member of the Geoforensic International Network
2017-2021 Lecturer, Institute of Technology Sligo, Ireland
2014-2017 Assistant Lecturer, Institute of Technology Sligo, Ireland
I worked as an Assistant Lecturer (2014-2017) and Lecturer (2017-2021) at the Department of Environmental Sciences, Institute of Technology Sligo. I was responsible for delivering 5 modules (see below) for the taught courses in the Applied Archaeology programme at Level 6 (Higher Certificate), Level 7 (BSc degree) and Level 8 (BSc Honours degree), and supervising postgraduate research. I was a member of the Centre for Environmental Research Innovation and Sustainability (CERIS) Research Cluster, based at IT Sligo, from 2016.
- Geophysical Surveying and Processing (Theory)
- Geophysical Surveying and Processing (Practical)
- Field School (Summer Excavation)
- Introduction to Geographic Information Systems for Archaeologists
- Information Technology
I also supervised archaeological projects for MSc and PhD candidates and undergraduates, as well as BSc Health Science and Physiology projects.
In 2015, I convened the First International Weather Beaten Archaeology Conference, held at IT Sligo and in 2019 I organised ICAP2019, the 13th International Conference on Archaeological Prospection at IT Sligo.
2002-2019 Director & Senior Geophysicist, Earthsound Archaeological Geophysics, Ireland
From 2002-2019 I was a co-owner and director of Earthsound Archaeological Geophysics. Earthsound was the largest commercial company in Ireland dedicated to the investigation of archaeological remains using geophysical techniques. I formed the original partnership in 2002, and the company surveyed and reported on over 200 surveys during that period. Asides from archaeo-geophysical projects, I also directed topographical surveys, upland surveys and landscape research. Since 2008 I acted as a consultant to the Serious Crime Review Team (a cold case investigation unit) of An Garda Siochána and regularly provided them with forensic geophysical surveys. Although primarily a commercial organization, Earthsound maintained a high academic profile under my directorship, as is attested by my publications, and the company’s role as an Industrial Partner in PhD research (see below). I resigned as a director from the company in June 2019.
Between 2010-2014, I was an NRA Research Fellow, carrying out doctoral research leading to a PhD funded by the Irish National Roads Authority Fellowship Programme, at the University of Bradford.
- BA (Hons) Upper Second Class Degree (2:1) in Archaeology, King Alfred’s College, Winchester, 2000
- MSc Distinction in Archaeological Prospection, University of Bradford, 2002
- PhD “A reappraisal of archaeological geophysical surveys on Irish road corridors 2001-2010”, University of Bradford, 2014
- Full clean EU Driving Licence
- Manual Handling
- Occupational First Aid Course inc. Cardiac First Response (AED) FETAC Level 5 (August 2015)
I’ve carried out a number of peer reviews since 2012 for a variety of publications (see my PubLons profile) including:
- European Journal of Archaeology
- Journal of Irish Archaeology
- Archaeological Prospection
- Proceedings of the Royal Irish Academy, Section C
- and three archaeological Monographs (names withheld)
- 2019: Vice Conference Secretary and Committee member, International Society for Archaeological Prospection
- 2018-2019: Chairperson of the Institute of Archaeologists of Ireland
- 2017: Conference Secretary and Committee member, International Society for Archaeological Prospection
- 2016: Joined the Centre for Environmental Research Innovation and Sustainability (CERIS)
- 2015-17: Vice-Chair of the Institute of Archaeologists of Ireland
- 2015: Member of the Wild Atlantic Way Research Cluster
- 2013-15: Honorary Secretary of the Institute of Archaeologists of Ireland
- 2009: The Irish representative of the Geoforensic International Network
Over the last 5 years I’ve directed or co-directed projects totaling funding awards of €139,680.
- Great Connell Abbey Exploration Project €3,900 from Kildare County Council Community Heritage Grant & Kildare Archaeological Society Research Grant (2012-2014).
- Youth ECO-Challenge Claremorris (2012): Environmental and heritage project at Mayfield Lake and Wetlands, Claremorris, Co. Mayo, Ireland, with Aine Carr, Clar I.R.D., Claremorris. The twelve week project gave 15-17 year olds an opportunity to develop an environmental project in the Claremorris area. Participants conducted archaeological geophysical surveys of the wetlands, made a podcast and were involved in a practical action project. The programme was offered in co-operation with Claremorris Community Radio, Earthsound Archaeological Geophysics and Clar I.R.D., Claremorris. Funded by the LEARGAS European Commission’s Education and Culture Directorate General’s ‘Youth in Action’ Programme (€7,100) and ECO-UNESCO ‘Clubs in Action’ Programme sponsored by Toyota (€480).
- YEAR 2012 Silver Medal Award Winner (2012): Presentation of doctoral research theme “What Lies Beneath: Identifying buried archaeology before road construction using non-destructive geophysical methods”. I was invited as a finalist to present my research at the prestigious Transport Research Arena 2012 Conference (TRA 2012), in Athens, Greece. The TRA 2012 is the largest surface transport research event in Europe, gathering together every two years key stakeholders including experts, operators, industry and policy-makers. My research was ranked highly by the Young European Arena of Research judges and was selected as one of only 30 finalists from over 330 research students across Europe, recognizing the project’s impact beyond archaeology. Funded by Young European Arena of Research 2012, Transport Research Arena Conference and Exhibition (TRA 2012), Athens, Greece, Finalist (€1,500) and winner of the Silver Medal Award (€500).
- Student Travel Bursary 9th International Conference on Archaeological Prospection, Izmir, Turkey (2011): I presented my research as a paper focusing on the case study of Rahally Hillfort and feedback from subsequent excavation data which demonstrated that detailed magnetometer investigations on road schemes failed to identify the presence of particularly large enclosure ditches across the west of Ireland (“Magnetic Surveys are failing to find Archaeology: An Analysis of Legacy Data from the West of Ireland”). A poster presentation (“Long and Winding Roads: Reappraising 170 Geophysical Surveys from 71 Irish Road Schemes”) introduced the scope of the research which encompassed over 170 geophysical surveys from across Ireland between 2001-2010. Funded by the International Society for Archaeological Prospection (€200).
- Doctoral research for the National Roads Authority Fellowship Programme (2010-2013): My PhD research at the University of Bradford “A reappraisal of archaeo-geophysical surveying on National Road Schemes 2001-2010”, a three-year project, led by Dr Chris Gaffney and Prof. Ian Armit. The industrial partner in the research was Earthsound Archaeological Geophysics. Funded by the National Roads Authority (€108,000).
- Kilcashel Landscape Project (2009-2014): A five year research project of the rural Irish townland of Kilcashel, Kilmovee, County Mayo, Ireland. The project collates historical & archaeological data and combines it with new data gathered non-intrusively by field-walking, topographic mapping, geophysics and standing building recording. The outputs will examine how resources have been exploited throughout history by the local community, what influences the community has had on land beyond the immediate study area and how Kilcashel itself has been influenced by external forces and events. Funded by Earthsound Archaeological Geophysics and The Heritage Council (€3,000).
- Rathnadrinna Royal Fort (2009-2011): A three year research project of a substantial enclosure near Cashel, County Tipperary, Ireland. Funded by The Heritage Council, Richard O’Brien and Earthsound Archaeological Geophysics (€15,000).
Teaching & Training Experience
- 2017 CPD Metal Detection Values and Principles for the Archaeological Profession in Northern Ireland, Course Trainer for the Institute of Archaeologists of Ireland.
- 2016 CPD Metal Detection Values and Principles for the Archaeological Profession in Ireland, Course Trainer for the Institute of Archaeologists of Ireland.
- 2014- Assistant Lecturer, Department of Environmental Sciences, Institute of Technology Sligo. I’m responsible for delivering 5 modules for the BSc (Hons) course in Applied Archaeology (NFQ Level 6, 7 and 8) at Institute of Technology Sligo. Each module accounts for 39 hours of teaching time. I also supervise undergraduate and postgraduate research projects. I’m currently supervising a post-graduate project assessing the use of low-cost analytical recording methods using open-source materials with a focus on Napoleonic-era Signal Defensible Guardhouses in Connacht.
- Invited Lecturer, Preventative Archaeology Field School, Ravenna, Italy, 23 June – 5 July 2014.
- 2013 Lecturer, Preventative Archaeology Field School, Ravenna, Italy, 1-12 July 2013.
- 2012 CPD Archaeological Geophysics Course Trainer for the Institute of Archaeologists of Ireland.
- Lecturing & Practical Demonstration of Archaeological Geophysics, NUI Maynooth
- 2011 CPD Archaeological Geophysics Course Trainer for the National Roads Authority.
- 2011 Lecturing at the Achill Archaeological Field School