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18 September 2014
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Scottish Crannogs

By Barrie Andrian
Discover a crannog

Image of Priory Island in Loch Tay, Scotland
Priory Island in Loch Tay, Scotland ©
Before searching underwater, it is a good idea to start looking in the local library or records office. Here it is possible to find historical records and old maps that may refer to crannogs, since many of them have clan associations.

In medieval times, crannogs were used not only as homes, but also as fishing stations, a place to keep hunting dogs, and especially as refuges in times of trouble. Often castles were built on islands which may have been the remains of earlier crannog dwellings, and family papers may contain valuable clues.

'... the island was granted to the monks of Scone Abbey in 1122 by Alexander I ...'

Priory Island in Loch Tay, Perthshire (or the Isle of Loch Tay as it is also known), is one example of a clan stronghold being constructed upon earlier remains. It is recorded that the island was granted to the monks of Scone Abbey in 1122 by Alexander I, after his queen, Sybilla, reputedly died on the island. The Campbells of Glenorchy constructed a fort on the island in the 16th century, the ruin of which still stands today.

Practical search methods are also used to determine the likely presence or absence of one or more crannogs in a loch. These methods include aerial photography, remote sensing using sonar from a boat, and snorkelling or diving to take a closer look. The landscape offers clues as well, for most crannogs were built in shallow water near good arable land.

Published: 2005-01-25

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