New evidence suggests Scottish crannogs thousands of years older than thought

New evidence suggests Scottish crannogs thousands of years older than thought
Credit: Antiquity (2019). DOI: 10.15184/aqy.2019.41

A pair of archaeologists, one with the University of Reading, the other the University of Southampton, has found evidence that suggests some crannogs in Scotland were built during the Neolithic period, several thousand years ago. The researchers, Duncan Garrow and Fraser Sturt, have written a paper about their findings published in Antiquity.

Crannogs are very small artificial islands built in rivers, lakes and streams in Scotland, Wales and Ireland. Most are no bigger than 10 to 30 meters in diameter. Researchers believe they were used as dwellings of some sort, likely accessible by footbridges. No one knows their purpose, though theories abound. Some of the crannogs have even been restored to what is believed to be their original architecture, with thatched roof coverings. Until recently, researchers believed that most, if not all of the Scottish crannogs were built during the Iron Age, though there had been little study of their origin. In this new effort, the researchers report finding evidence that suggests that at least some of the crannogs in Scotland are much older than has been thought—thousands of years older.

Garrow and Sturt report that back in 2011, Chris Murray, a former Royal Navy diver, was exploring the water around a crannog on Scotland's Outer Hebrides. He came across some on the water bed that appeared interesting. He brought samples to the local conservation officer at a nearby museum. Together, the two of them explored underwater areas near several other local crannogs and found more of the ceramic pieces. Eventually, the findings by the two amateur sleuths made their way to Garrow and Sturt, who undertook a formal study of both the crannogs and the ceramic pieces that the divers had found. They carried out on material found on the ceramic pieces and on wood pieces that were assumed to have been used on the crannog near them. They report that dating showed the crannogs to have been in use from 3640 to 3360 BC, placing their construction in the Neolithic period.

New evidence suggests Scottish crannogs thousands of years older than thought
Aerial photographic comparison of the six islet sites known to have produced Neolithic material (all shown at the same scale): 1) Arnish; 2) Bhorgastail; 3) Eilean Domhnuill; 4) Lochan Duna (Ranish); 5) Loch an Dunain (Carloway); 6) Langabhat (images © of Getmapping PLC). Credit: Antiquity (2019). DOI: 10.15184/aqy.2019.41

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More information: Duncan Garrow et al. Neolithic crannogs: rethinking settlement, monumentality and deposition in the Outer Hebrides and beyond, Antiquity (2019). DOI: 10.15184/aqy.2019.41
Journal information: Antiquity

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Jun 13, 2019
It was warmer then than now.

Jun 13, 2019
Very interesting. The full article is available on-line, free public access.

Crannogs can be found in most large lakes in Scotland and Ireland, and even small lakes. Many of them were historically used as dwellings and refuges during the Middle Ages, and some even have small castles built upon them. The article has convinced me that some of these crannogs are thousands of years older, originally built by neolithic cultures and possibly for ceremonial purposes.

Jun 13, 2019
questions that i have.
where was the cooking done?
if these were used as dwellings on a regular basis?
should be firepits or some sort of stove or beehive oven?
& all the ashes & charcoal left behind?

first thought i had, these were fishing platforms.
considering the ceramics?
maybe used for a cool room for storing food such as dried fish & game?

in addition, many societies over the ages basically did not feed teenage boys.
they had to learn to hunt or steal if they wanted to eat

we all know, teenage boys are bottomless pits!

the crannogs would be visible from all around.
make thievery difficult.

for examples. Apache boys, in addition to not being fed
it was taboo for them to drink water from sunrise to sunset.

& we all have heard some gruesome tales about the taboos placed on Spartan boys.

i suppose if attacked, women & children might use the crannogs for refuge?
but those would be a death trap against javelins or slingers.
or a torch tossed on the thatch roof.

Jun 13, 2019
They just built them to play with the heads of the Sassenach

Jun 13, 2019
huh, i'd forgotten
the picts were headhunters.
they could have used the crannogs to display their trophies.

I wonder, "crannogs"
could that be the original root word for "cranial" or "noggin"?

Maybe here is the historical origin of the game of "soccer"?

Jun 13, 2019
[qI wonder, "crannogs"
could that be the original root word for "cranial" or "noggin"?
It's a Gaelic word. "Crann" is log or pole; or construction of wood or timber. "Og" is young, at least when it's used in names. Like "Junior."

Jun 14, 2019
ahh, satire is wasted on the young!

so ddaye, thank you for the definitions you supplied.
that brings up a couple of possibilities.

did the natives mean young, green timber?
or fresh-cut poles?
or trimmed green branches woven into wattle?

this use of lightweight material, easily harvested with minimal tools? would provide tolerable shelter during calm weather.

then after the fishing season, burned or blown away as storm wrack?
to be replaced each year?

for teams working the fishing weirs, large nets & basket traps.
maybe as fish cleaning & drying sheds?

for the earlier communities, with limited outside trade? would have been dependent on local resources.
i would suggest the archeologists search for piles of used shells & worked stone near to the crannogs,
even underwater convenient for discards.
A good find would be hand-sized seashells brought in from the coast.

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