South-West Archaeology Digs (SWAD) is an archaeology field school running every year.

SWAD excavation and post-excavation works comprise a wide variety of sites in Portugal. Currently, our major projects are related with the excavation of the multi-period site of Castelo Velho de Safara and the Roman Ruins of Telhada.

The field and lab school is designed to provide students with hands-on experience in excavation, recording excavation work through context sheets, section drawing, plans and photographs; and assisting in the recovery, processing, recording and archiving of finds and environmental samples. By the end of your stay, you will be able to work independently on site and in the lab, and will have developed considerable teamwork skills alongside the ability to prioritize and structure tasks within a set period of time.


Project Director - Zooarchaeologist

Mariana Nabais holds a PhD in Archaeology from University College London, where she worked as a teaching assistant in Zooarchaeology (2014) and in Field Methods in Archaeology (2014-2016). She has been participating in several research projects ranging from the Palaeolithic to the Roman Era in Portugal and Spain and was the assistant direction of the excavations running in Downley, the Earls of Arundel Hunting Lodge (West Dean, UK), between 2014 and 2016. Mariana has extensive experience in public engagement activities in Portugal and the UK, and has a record of international peer-reviewed publications. Her research focuses primarily on reconstructing populations’ diets and environments through faunal analyses, including mammals, birds, reptiles, molluscs and crustaceans.

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Project Director - Artefact Specialist

Rui Monge Soares is a member of the UNIARQ, Lisbon University's Institute of Archaeology. He completed his MSc in Archaeology (2012) on the subject of the Iron Age in Southwestern Iberian Peninsula at FLUL (Lisbon University). Since then, he has directed several excavations of Iron Age sites in the South of Portugal and he is currently undertaking a PhD in Archaeology at FLUL. His research focus is the Iron Age, specifically the ceramics between the V and IV centuries b.C. in Southwestern Iberian Peninsula.


Project Director - Human Remains Specialist

Margarida Figueiredo has been working as an archaeologist for several commercial units in Portugal since 2005. However, since 2007, she has been 2 in 1, securing both archaeology and physical anthropology on site, after completing her MSc in Forensic and Physical Anthropoogy in the University of Granada, Spain (2007). Margarida’s most recent work has been related to biochemical anthropology, and her current research focuses on isotope analysis of human remains from Roman contexts in Portugal.

Collections Manager, Museum Mediator

Patrícia Brum works at the Lisbon Museum – Roman Theatre. She became an archaeologist in 2007, having taken part in excavations in Portugal, France and Italy. She holds an MA in Museum Studies having presented her “Contributions to the Museology Programming of the Archaeological Collection of the Roman Ruins of Tróia (Portugal)”, where she was the collections manager between 2008 and 2021.

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Image and Design expert

João Vidigal is a master of fine arts and a maker of all sorts: from his arts to archaeological equipment, from electronics to drone video and photography, from guitars and boats to web design. He has worked in all sorts of creative scenes both in Portugal and the UK. A true asset to the SWAD team as a jack of all trades.


Davide Susini holds a MSC in Archaeology from the University of Trento (Italy), and a PhD in Geoarchaeology from the University of Siena (Italy). His research focuses on site formation processes, geomorphology and soil micromorphology. Davide is currently a research member of an ERC project (nEU-Med), aiming to investigate the geomorphological evolution of the Medieval landscape extending from the Colline Metallifere to the Tyrrhenian Sea (South-West of Tuscany). He was also part of the geoarchaeology team (2011-2016) researching on issues related with the Middle-to-Upper Palaeolithic transition in Southeastern Iberia.

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Samuel Neves is the CEO from ARROW4D - Consultores de Engenharia e Geofísica company and Phd Student from University of Vigo. He completed his MSc in Civil Engineering (2012) on structures and geotechnics subject. Since then, he worked on several research projects in geophysics applied to archaeology, seismic risk at geology assess. He currently is the CEO of a geophysics and 3D reality capture company and a Phd student on geophysics applied to cultural heritage.

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Raven da Silva studied ancient civilizations at the University of Toronto, and holds an MSc in the Conservation and Restoration of Cultural Heritage from the University of Amsterdam. She has taken part in archaeological projects in Greece, Italy, and Northern Macedonia. Raven is passionate about public outreach in archaeology and art conservation, and is the founder of Dig it With Raven- a YouTube channel and online resource which aims to make learning about cultural heritage exciting and accessible to all.



Nikolah Gilligan has worked in commercial archaeology since 1999 and has excavated sites in Ireland, Wales, Australia and Greece. Nikolah gained her Irish Site Director’s Licence in 2007 and has directed many excavations on large-scale infrastructural projects. Nikolah completed her MSc. in The Institute of Archaeology, UCL, in 2010, and has carried out archaeobotanical analyses of Irish assemblages, as well as material from Thailand and Vietnam as part of the NERC-funded Early Rice Project in The Institute of Archaeology. Nikolah is currently undertaking a PhD in University College Dublin.


Public Engager

Teresa Ramos da Costa holds a BA and an MA in Archaeology and worked as a project manager in contract archaeology from 2001 to 2011. In 2005, Teresa became an associated researcher for the Centre of Overseas History, has been part of relevant scientific publications as well as part of an international team running archaeological projects in Morocco and in the Sultanate of Oman (World Heritage site), under the Direction of Gregory Possehl. Teresa integrated the Portuguese National Archaeology Museum Learning Department (Lisbon) and, since 2015, has been part of the Learning Department of Castelo de São Jorge (Lisbon), one of the most visited national monuments in Portugal.