Archaeologists from the St. Augustine Lighthouse & Museum will begin their annual field school in St. Augustine on June 1st with six students from around the world.

ST. AUGUSTINE, FLA. – Six students from as far away as Canada have arrived in St. Augustine, Fla., for the educational experience of a lifetime. Beginning June 1st, the students will join archaeologists from the St. Augustine Lighthouse & Museum for four weeks of hands-on, underwater research and excavation on historic St. Augustine shipwrecks.

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Students inspect artifacts during a practice dive in Alexander Springs, Fla.

“St. Augustine is such a unique place. We have so many shipwrecks out there that it’s like an underwater archaeology laboratory offshore,” said Chuck Meide, Director of the museum’s Lighthouse Archaeological Maritime Program (LAMP). “The lighthouse is one of the very few places that hosts an underwater archaeology field school, where students learn how to excavate a shipwreck diving side by side with professional archaeologists. There are probably only one or two other maritime archaeology field schools running in the country, so this is a pretty unique opportunity.”

This year, students will be diving on a 1782 British Loyalist shipwreck located one mile off St. Augustine’s historic coast. Lighthouse archaeologists have been excavating this wreck since 2010. Artifacts recovered from the ship have helped the team piece together the story of British Loyalists who evacuated Charleston, S.C., near the end of the American Revolution.

Loaded with civilians and soldiers, the vessel attempted to enter the St. Augustine inlet on December 31, 1782, but it ran aground. Passengers were able to escape on smaller boats, but the ship and all its contents were lost to the sea. The St. Augustine Lighthouse & Museum is currently working to conserve the recovered artifacts—including cannons, muskets, cauldrons and other items—for a future exhibition set to open in the spring of 2016.

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Dr. Sam Turner (left) and student Chris McCarron (right) bring shipwreck artifacts aboard the R/V Roper.

The accredited program, now in its eighth year, provides methodological training and academic lectures to give students valuable real-world experience in all aspects of archaeological fieldwork, scientific diving and laboratory analysis. Students also participate in the museum’s public archaeology programs, including the Lost Ships guided tour.

“I’m always excited to start each field season with a new group of students,” said Olivia McDaniel, a University of Idaho graduate and field school supervisor this year.  “They bring different levels of experience, interests, and backgrounds, and that, combined with the new discoveries we make each season create a unique field school experience year in and year out.”

McDaniel began her career at the museum as a 2013 field school student and is now a full-time staff archaeologist. This year, she will join fellow supervisors Chandler von Cannon (Flagler College), Molly Trivelpiece (Longwood University), Chris McCarron (University of Alabama Birmingham) Eden Andes (Florida State University), Ivor Mollema (East Carolina University), Bridget Stanton (Flagler College), Bill Chalfant (University of Leicester), Hunter Brendel (Flinders University – Australia) and Brian McNamara (Flinders University – Australia).

The 2015 student roster includes Carolane Veilleux (University of Montreal), Joshua Dotson (Flagler College), Alex Saulnier Rathé (Laval University), Jonathan Kozak (Rochester Institute of Technology), Bradley Rolwing, Jr. (Flagler College), and Dong Hyun Ryou (Phillips Exeter Academy).

Throughout the month of June, the students will blog their field school experiences on the St. Augustine Lighthouse & Museum website,


A pivotal navigation tool and unique landmark of St. Augustine for over 140 years, the St. Augustine Light Station is host to centuries of history in the Nation’s Oldest PortSM. Through interactive exhibits, guided tours and maritime research, the 501(c)3 non-profit St. Augustine Lighthouse & Museum is on a mission to preserve, present and keep alive the story of the Nation’s Oldest Port SM as symbolized by our working lighthouse. We are the parent organization to the Lighthouse Archaeological Maritime Program (LAMP) and an affiliate of the Smithsonian Institution.