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18 September 2014
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Reconstructing Oakbank Crannog

By Barrie Andrian
The future of our past

Image of Iron Age pottery fragment
Pottery fragment found at Oakbank site ©
Underwater excavations have taught us a great deal about the diet and sophisticated lifestyle of these crannog farmers, but there are still many questions left unanswered. In the absence of human remains and icons, we can make no definitive statements as to burial practices or spiritual beliefs.

Furthermore, while comprehending the logic of such a structure, we can still only surmise the reasons for building in the water in the first place. Certainly, there are many practical advantages including protection, sanitation, and the creation of a midge-free zone. However, given the effort and resources required, it is likely that these homes were built to make a statement on behalf of wealthy or powerful owners.

'... it could take generations to fully understand these structures ...'

Necessarily, this picture is but one in a gallery of many blank screens. Despite the hundreds, if not thousands of crannogs, to be investigated, there is no integrated research strategy and no regular core funding to further their study. Given the backdrop of these challenges and the current level of activity, it could take generations to fully understand these structures, the people who created and lived in them, and their context within the rest of Iron Age Scotland.

About the author

Barrie Andrian is a professional underwater archaeologist and Managing Director of the Scottish Crannog Centre where she co-directed the first-ever timber-piled crannog reconstruction. Barrie co-founded the Scottish Trust for Underwater Archaeology and is a director of the Scottish Trust for Underwater Archaeology. Between 1978 and 1987 she was involved with many shipwreck archaeological projects including the Mary Rose and HMS Invincible off the south coast of England.

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Published: 2005-01-25



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