Wednesday, October 2, 2019

Beaker Era Crannogs?

Via Nature Magazine,

"This artificial island was built by farmers more than five millennia ago"

Ever heard of a Crannog?  What is that?

The Scottish Crannog Centre

Crannogs are man-made islands found throughout the northern British Isles.  Many of these islets were connected to land by a long pier.  The first were built in the Neolithic and the last of them were built in the Iron Age.

What were they?  Some of them might be lake dwellings for powerful families while others could have been lakeshore temples.  It's thought they may have been important in laying claim to a body of water by actually living on the water.

The Scottish Crannog Center


  1. Fascinating. Never heard of these before.

  2. Went there last year, it is pretty neat. I asked if it was for defence, and they thought not on account of it would be way too easy to set on fire. Unless they had some way of countering that we don't know about, I guess.

  3. Any insight into the residential v. religious use question? I would think that artifacts and construction details would provide some insight.

    The only hint that comes to mind on the religious front is the Lady of the Lake aspect of the King Arthur myth with someone who was basically a high priestess living in the middle of a lake.

    Even if it wasn't good defense against organized human attacks (although, what better place to do a bucket brigade against fire than in a lake and you could also chop a gap in the walkway with an ax to prevent a fire on the walkway from reaching the main residence which would have access to water and fish during a siege), I'd think it would make you pretty secure against wild beasts and would also provide a good place for fishing.

    I like the idea of doing it to "claim territory" much like we still today have states trying to occupy desert islands to increase the extent of their domestic waters. Given the experience of some Beaker people with maritime travel in the much more difficult environment of ocean coasts, why have a walkway at all if you aren't trying to make a statement like that? The unnecessary walkway does undermine the defense argument somewhat, but a walkway would make sense if there were regular processionals to a temple. Maybe the location also discouraged larceny short of burning and pillaging by outsiders of temple property as well.

    Do those lakes freeze in the winter?

  4. The crannog there is reconstructed as a residence (I don't remember even hearing of any other interpretation). Loch Tay (the one in the picture) I think only freezes very rarely. River Tay has a good salmon run.