Field School in Building Archaeology

The Field School in Building Archaeology, offered by Roger Williams University in collaboration with the Newport Restoration Foundation, provides participants with an intensive learning experience in the theory, methods, and practice of building archaeology – the investigation, documentation and interpretation of historic buildings.

Through lectures, field trips, and hands-on activities centered on investigation of the Newport Restoration Foundation’s c.1725 Christopher Townsend House, the home of a renowned 18th century Newport cabinetmaker, participants in the May – June 2017 program will learn the tools, methods, and strategies that can be applied to the study of historic buildings, how to date their original construction and subsequent changes, how to interpret these changes within the context of its occupants, local place, and region.

The Field School in Building Archaeology is offered for academic credit through the School of Architecture, Art and Historic Preservation, and as a Certificate offering for professional development through the University College. The Field School is led by Myron Stachiw, with workshop participation by Tom Paske, Claire Dempsey, John Vaughan, and William Flynt.

Academic Credit for Undergraduate and Graduate Students

School of Architecture, Art, and Historic Preservation

The Field School is offered in a 3-week session for academic credit for undergraduate and graduate students over four consecutive days each week.

3 Week  HP 430/530 Field School: Building Archaeology

3 credits 

  • Week 1: Tuesday, June 6 – Friday, June 9, 2017
  • Week 2: Monday, June 12 – Thursday, June 15
  • Week 3: Monday, June 19 – Thursday, June 22

Undergraduate tuition: $999 Graduate tuition: $2529 

This 3 week session includes the following workshops:

Building Technology: 17th through 19th Century (3 days)
Instructors: Thomas Paske, Myron Stachiw
June 6-8, 2017

Building Documentation (2 days)
Instructors: Claire Dempsey, Myron Stachiw
June 12-13, 2017

Paint Analysis (1 day)
Instructor: John Vaughan
June 14, 2017

Dendochronology (1 day)
Instructor: William Flynt
June 15, 2017

Further information on each workshop is found below.

Certificate Workshops for Professional Development (non-credit)

University College

Professional Development Certificates are available for those interested in focused field experiences over 1 to 4 day periods in selected areas. Participants may complete any or all of the workshops listed below, which are also a featured and integral part of the Field School in Building Archaeology program for academic credit for undergraduate and graduate students described above.  Workshops are open to all interested in gaining knowledge and experience in these topics.
Documentary Research of a Historic Property (4 days)
Instructor: Myron Stachiw
Tuesday, May 23 - Friday, May 26, 2017

$600 for Certificate Participants
This 4-day workshop will introduce participants in the resources and methods of researching a historic property.  Lectures will discuss available and relevant documentary sources such as maps, deeds, probate records, genealogical sources, town/city records, and private family and business papers, and strategies for their use and interpretation.  Each participant will spend up to three days researching a chain of title or other historic research on a historic property.
Building Technology: 17th through 19th century (3 days)
Instructors - Thomas Paske, Myron Stachiw
Tuesday, June 6 - Thursday, June 8, 2017
$450 for Certificate Participants
This 3-day workshop provides lectures, hands-on workshops, and site visits where participants will learn about changing building technology from the 17th century to the 19th century and how to use this information to help date a building.  The focus will be on technological changes in processing of materials (wood, stone metal); in the types of tools used and the marks that they left; in the ways materials were joined and fastened (nails, screws, joinery, etc.); and the dates when such changes were introduced and/or went out of use.
Building Documentation (2 days)
Instructors - Claire Dempsey, Myron Stachiw
Monday, June 12 - Tuesday, June 13, 2017
$300 for Certificate Participants
This 2-day workshop provides participants with training and practice in the methods of building documentation: written description of buildings, field sketching, and measured drawings.  These methods will be taught through lecture and field-based exercises.
Paint Analysis           (1 day)
Instructor – John Vaughan
Wednesday, June 14, 2017
$150 for Certificate Participants
This 1-day workshop introduces participants to the history of painted finishes and the field-based and laboratory-based methods used to collect, analyze, and interpret the rich information that can result for careful study of painted finishes in buildings.  Special focus will be placed on the archaeological uses of comparative paint stratigraphies found on various components of historic buildings to help understand the development and alteration of the buildings and the spaces within them.
Dendrochronology    (1 day)
Instructor – William Flynt
Thursday, June 15, 2017
$150 for Certificate Participants
An important tool in dating historic buildings that has become available over the past several decades is dendrochronology – the dating of select wooden elements of historic buildings through analysis of tree ring data.  This 1-day workshop will introduce participants to the theory, practice, and applications of dendrochronology as a dating tool, and to the methods of sampling, processing of samples, and their interpretation to provide absolute dates for the cutting of timbers and other wooden elements used in the construction of historic structures.


Two $500 Scholarships from the Newport Restoration Foundation are available for students pursuing undergraduate and graduate credit. A one-page letter of interest should be submitted, along with a current CV, to The NRF scholarship deadline is April 15; award notifications will be sent by April 30. NRF scholarships are paid through the University Bursar, and credited to student accounts. Students may also apply to the Vernacular Architecture Forum for support, which may provide scholarships of up to $500 per student. 
Housing and Dining 
Housing can be provided for students seeking academic credit, at the Roger Williams University Bristol, RI campus, which is approximately 14 miles from the field site. Parking and bus transportation are available. The North Residential Area features air-conditioned apartments. Each suite contains four single rooms, two private baths and a shared living room. Housing costs $48/night + $10 one-time linen fee. Housing payments are due upon arrival. 
Arrival date is Monday, June 5 and the departure date is Friday, June 23. Please contact Sue Contente at for registration.


Please send no more than a one-page cover letter that outlines your interest in the Field School for academic credit or the non-credit Workshops, and a CV or resume to Director Myron Stachiw at
Application Deadlines
HP 430/530 Sp Topics: Field School in Building Archaeology (3 credits)
May 1, 2017       
Certificate Workshops for Professional Development
April 23                Documentary Research of a Historic Property
May 7                   Building Technology: 17th through 19th Century 
May 12                 Building Documentation
May 14                 Paint Analysis
May 15                 Dendrochronology
You will receive a response within two business days.


If you have any questions, please contact:


  • Myron O. Stachiw, Director, Field School in Building Archaeology (860) 208-6504

Academic Credit Registration:

  • Sue Contente, School of Architecture, Art and Historic Preservation (401) 254-3683

Professional Development Registration (non-credit):

  • Adriana Dawnson, Assistant Dean, Center for Workforce & Professional Development, University College (401) 254-5218

2017 Summer Field School in Building Archaeology

Informational Flyer

Registration Form for Academic Credit

Register for Professional Development (non-credit)