Archaeology Research

NRA Archaeology and Research

Shiela Tierney of the Ballyhanna Research Project at work in the dedicated ancient DNA lab at the Institute of Technology, Sligo

All archaeological investigation can be described as a form of research, however, in addition to the compliance-led archaeological works on national road schemes, the NRA also funds a number of formal research projects.

The first of these, the Ballyhanna Research Project, was established in 2006 in partnership with Donegal County Council, Queen's University, Belfast, and the Institute of Technology, Sligo. Through the application of a suite of scientific analyses this project aims to learn as much as possible about the population of one of the largest medieval Gaelic cemeteries ever excavated in Ireland, which was discovered at Ballyhanna, Co. Donegal, on the N15 Bundoran–Ballyshannon Bypass.

In April 2006 the NRA initiated a Research Fellowship Programme to enable universities and institutes to apply for financial support for PhD and post-doctoral programmes covering subjects relevant to the aims of the NRA. The NRA awarded funding for two archaeological research projects in 2008 and 2010, both of which are facilitating doctoral research. These research projects are being conducted by the Botany Department of Trinity College Dublin and the Division of Archaeological, Geographical and Environmental Sciences, University of Bradford, respectively.

In 2008 the NRA became a research partner in an INSTAR project—Cultivating societies: assessing the evidence for agriculture in Neolithic Ireland—led by the School of Geography, Archaeology and Palaeoecology at Queen’s University, Belfast. The Irish National Strategic Archaeological Research, or INSTAR, Programme is an archaeological research fund established in early 2008 and administered by the Heritage Council, which is intended to fund thematic research that contributes to a better understanding of Ireland’s archaeological heritage and facilitates collaboration between archaeological consultancies, academic institutions, international academic and research bodies and State bodies.

These projects allow the NRA to further build and develop research collaborations within the academic sector, participate in internationally significant research projects and allow our excavation work to be informed by current research thinking, providing value-added benefit to the NRA’s archaeological work.