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18 September 2014
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Scottish Crannogs

By Barrie Andrian
Iron Age dwellers

Image of the Scottish Crannog Centre
The Scottish Crannog Centre at Loch Tay in Scotland ©
The Iron Age in Scotland was a time of technological development, when bronze was superseded by the wider availability of iron ore for the manufacture of tools and weapons.

Archaeologists also know it as a period of architectural emphasis in which status, design and function influenced the construction of an extensive range of roundhouses. Many of these survive in the landscape as ephemeral circular shadows best seen as cropmarks from the air. Hundreds more are substantial stone-walled or timber buildings, and still more are found on islands or lie submerged in lochs.

'... evidence from ring-ditches, like those at Broxmouth in East Lothian ... suggests a development towards two-storey accommodation ...'

Today we do not know much about the people who built these apparently spacious and complex structures, nor do we know why they did so. The evidence from ring-ditches, such as those at Broxmouth in East Lothian, and brochs such as Carloway in Lewis, suggests a development towards two-storey accommodation with the ground floor reserved for animals.

Built in commanding locations and towering over the landscape, these labour-intensive, material rich roundhouses would have been very imposing and visible testimony to the wealth of their owners.

Published: 2005-01-25

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