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Ancient Crannogs Of Ireland And Scotland

CULTURE | June 20, 2019

Reconstructed 2500 year old crannog, prehistoric dwelling at the Scottish Crannog Centre on Loch Tay near Kenmore, Perth and Kinross, Scotland, UK. Source: (Photo by: Arterra/Universal Images Group via Getty Images)

Crannogs are artificial islands made by man in ancient times and used for residences, settlements, or even craft centers and forts.

It has been thought that most crannogs were built around Scotland during the Iron Age because, during that time, they made dwelling places in the middle of bodies of water. Now there are researchers who believe that a lot of the crannogs in Scotland could go back to the Stone Age or Neolithic period.  

Neolithic Pottery. Source: (commons.wikimedia.org)

As recent as 2012, someone spotted a piece of pottery around the crannogs off the western mainland of Scotland that was distinguished as Neolithic pottery. While researching the area, archaeologists identified five artificial islets as having Neolithic origins by using radiocarbon dating of pottery that was found near these sites. There is still a lot of research to be done by archaeologists to determine the purpose of building these crannogs in this particular area as there were no other signs of life or evidence of death either such as tombs near the area.  

A crannog. Source: (loughgaralakesandlegends.ie)

In Ireland, during the late Bronze Age to the Middle Ages, crannogs were built at Lough Gara, which is 8km east of Ballaghaderreen town. These crannogs were first discovered in 1952 while doing some drainage work on the lake with an estimated number of them being around 145 to 369. Many of these crannogs have been excavated with a lot of artifacts such as solid tin bracelets and pottery being found in the nearby waters. Dug-out canoes were also found on the bottom of the lake indicating what may have been the provided material for a lot of the crannogs in Lough Garas. There is also evidence of some activity during the Iron Age near Derrymaquirk and Cashel townlands by the finding of the body of a 25-year-old woman and a La Tene sword, according to radiocarbon dating.

Inside of a Crannog. Source: (pinterest.com)

Whole families sometimes would live in these crannogs including aunts and uncles which could be as many as 20 people in all. They would make a fire in the center to use as heat and light to see by. Even their animals like sheep and goats were kept inside for protection against wild animals. For sleeping quarters, they would have bunk beds as a way of making good use of their space. Some of the crafts they made consisted of weaving for cloth, leather pouches, and boots as well as knives, especially during the Iron Age.

Crannog. Source: (commons.wikimedia.org)

Crannogs could be reached by causeways across the water. Being surrounded entirely by water creates an air of isolation from the rest of the world or community that may be nearby. Some of these crannogs were used specifically for working on crafts so the quietness of isolation was beneficial to their creative juices. Others were used as defensive forts away from the rest of the community that may be in a battle.

Living during these ancient times was definitely a different way of life from today.  

Tags: ancient crannogs ireland | ireland | scotland

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Penny Chavers

Writer

Penny, besides writing, loves to spend her time with family and friends. In her spare time, she also enjoys playing the piano, board games, and taking online classes on topics that interest her.