Retired Professor Seamas Caulfield, and Declan Caulfield are the son and grandson of the late Patrick Caulfield, school teacher and amateur archaeologist who was born and spent his entire life in Belderrig Valley. In his letter to the National Museum in 1934 he described ordinary field walls which he observed when metres deep of bog had been cut from over them, an observation which led eventually to the recognition of Céide Fields. Later, his lifelong interest in archaeology led to his discovering a significant early fishing community site on the coast at Belderrig harbour, the earliest known prehistoric site west of the Shannon.Seamas Caulfield, his son, changed career from schoolteacher to archaeologist, and is now retired from his position as Associate Professor of Archaeology in University College Dublin. Most of SC’s research as a professional archaeologist and academic has been devoted to the study of the field boundaries, most of it concentrated on Céide Fields and on the rich surviving remains in Belderrig Valley about which his father wrote to the museum all those years ago. After half a century of almost yearly research, Céide Fields is now on the tentative list of prospective World Heritage Sites. Research in Belderrig Valley is ongoing and a younger generation of international academics, archaeologists and environmental specialists continue to carry out research there. Every year, the postgraduate students from NUI Galway and University College Dublin spend time on extended field trips led by SC in the valley.
Declan, a younger generation of the Caulfield family, grew up in Dublin but is now settled with his own family in Belderrig and has farmed for many years there. His farm includes the Stone Age and Bronze Age farms excavated by his father Seamas between 1970 and 1982. From a young age he was interested in his father’s research and ‘worked’ every day with his grandfather on the final year’s excavation. It was fitting that in a television documentary twenty years ago entitled ‘The Man who Found Céide Fields’ he played the part of both his grandfather and father as younger men. With a degree in Agricultural Science he brings his own professional training and experience to the understanding of the prehistory of farming in Belderrig Valley. This involves his current project to create proper pathways through the ancient farms and to replicate the ancient cultivation plots and methods as practical experimental archaeology. He also has a deep interest in the traditional fishing craft of Belderrig and has built the large 5-man and smaller 3-man Belderrig currach. In 2012 he was invited to exhibit his currachs and currach making skills at the prestigious Tonneres festival in Brest where he completed a third Belderrig currach. For the last five years Declan has accompanied his father on all the field trips in Belderrig Valley and now leads those trips when his father is unable to attend.