Crannogs are ancient artificial islands built in lochs, rivers, and sea inlets, in Ireland, Scotland and Wales. There are an estimated 1200 sites in Ireland, and 500 in Scotland. Similar settlements are found all across Europe.
Built with hundreds of timbers, they were perhaps the homes of prosperous local families, built for trade and as shelter from the wildlife of prehistoric Britain: bears, wolves and lynxes. They were built, re-built, and lived in up until the 17th century.
It was thought that they originated in the Iron Age, around 800 BC, but archaeologists researching sites in the Outer Hebrides (the Western isles of Scotland) have used radiocarbon dating to discover these sites were built around 3640-3360 BC.
Stonehenge was erected in 2500 BC.
The lives, traditions, and beliefs of the people who originally built and lived in these wooden structures are lost to us; they kept no written records, or at least none that survive. All that we can know about their lives come from the items found in excavations of the underwater remnants of the crannogs: clothing, musical instruments, a butter dish with the remains butter still inside. Opium seeds have been discovered, suggesting trade across whole continents.
The featured photograph is of a recreated Crannog built on Loch Tay in Scotland, a wonderful and very educational place to visit. The now iconic structure was created over two years by American-born underwater archaeologist Barrie Andrian and her husband, Dr Nick Dixon, who together co-founded the Scottish Trust for Underwater Archaeology.
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