We have Crannogs — fortified living quarters out at water.

  • Ledaig - by Moss road
  • Lochnell - at Kilmore
  • Eriska - inlet

The Scottish Crannog Centre is the place to learn so much more about how these dwellings worked and fitted in our prehistoric life. What is a Crannog

Lake-Dwellings of Ledaig and Lochnell, Argyllshire.
Dr. Angus Smith, F.R.S., in a communication to the[54] Society of Antiquaries of Scotland in 1871, describes, among other antiquities near Loch Etive, lake-dwellings at Ledaig and Lochnell, the former of which, notwithstanding the limited and inadequate inspection it has undergone, presents some features of interest, which the reader will find in the following extracts from Dr. Smith's report.—(Proc. Soc. Antiq. Scot. vol. ix. pp. 93 and 105.)
"About one hundred and twenty years ago a company from England, engaged in working iron, had diverted a stream from this to the east, and made dry ground where was a lake.
"The space that called forth interest was scarcely distinguishable from the rest of the moss. A little attention, however, showed a depression. The whole was of a brownish-green colour, but in the middle of the depression, where had been the old lake, there was a part greener than the rest. It was of an oval form, about 50 feet long, and 28 feet broad. The outer part had a double row of tufts, as if two walls had existed. I expected piles at these places, but the whole was soft and consisted of turf only. On digging down, about 31⁄2 feet, we came to wood, consisting of young trees from 6 to 8 inches in diameter, lying packed closely together. Under these there was another larger layer crossing, and under these again more. There seemed four all along the building. This was opened in three parts, and the same layers of wood were seen….
"At the east end of the oval was an elongation not surrounded by the turf mound. I believe the foundation extends along it. I suppose this to have been a platform before the door, a place for the inhabitants to sun themselves, and a landing and disembarking spot. (This platform was afterwards found to extend all round.)
"In the middle nearly, but a little to the westerly end, of the oval house was the fireplace. It is higher than the[55] rest of the space. It was here that the bones were found, with shells and nuts. Under a few inches of a white powder is the hearth. It consists of four flattish stones; under the stones are to be found more peat ashes and some few remnants, but very few, of the substances connected with food. Under the ash was a floor of clay about 6 inches thick."
Dr. Smith, having resumed excavations here on a subsequent occasion, remarks (Proc. Soc. Antiq. Scot. vol. x. p. 82): "A little more was exposed this year, and a third fireplace found at the north-western end. On each side, a little towards the front, was a raised seat. This was a bank of earth on which were placed flattish stones. These were the arm-chairs of the inhabitants. Amongst the rubbish outside the wall were found two or three piles, the meaning of which is not yet made out. Two broken combs made of wood were obtained, one of which is shown in the annexed woodcut (Fig. 27).
"A piece of wood with a cross burnt on it caused a good deal of interest. This kind of cross is not uncommon in the older Irish forms. It is a Greek cross with crosslets, and has been imagined to indicate a time before the Latin Church entered."
A small island in Lochnell is supposed by Dr. Smith, after a slight examination, to be another lake-dwelling. inc mention of Lochnell crannog

(this is mentioned by Smith separately from Ledaig too.. BUT NONE mention the Eriska one)

Proceedings of Society of Antiquaries of Scotland in 1871, describes, among other antiquties near Loch Etive, lake-dwellings at Ledaig and Lochnell, the former of which, notwithstanding the limited and inadequate inspections it has undergone, presents some features of interest, which the reader will find in the following extracts from Dr SMiths report (Proc soc Antiq Scot Vol ix pp 93 and 105) - followed by more detailed description


There are two main crannogs that are recognised by Historic Scotland

Isle of Eriska

Ledaig Moss, by Moss cottage
(location from Pastmap :Easting/Northing 191070, 736693 / Latitude/Longitude 56° 28′ 33″ N 5° 23′ 39″ W Mapsheet NM93NW OS NGR NM 91070 36693)
From Am Baile
This 'lake dwelling' or crannog is at Ledaig Moss, near Benderloch in Argyll and Bute. Crannogs were artificially constructed sites for a house or settlement. They were usually on an islet or in the shallows of a lake. Made of timber or sometimes stone, they date from the Late Bronze Age into the Middle Ages.The illustration is from 'Loch Etive and The Sons of Uisnach', published by MacMillan & Co, 1879
31608.jpgPortion of a double-edged wooden comb found at a lake dwelling in Ledaig Moss near Connell Ferry, Argyllshire.
This illustration is from 'Proceedings of the Society of Antiquaries of Scotland, vol.10'

This crannog was named as Loch-an-t-Shomhairle and attributed to a dwelling of Somerled in p8 of The MacDonnells of Antrim

in the district of Lorne there has been recently discovered an ancient Crannog, or lake dwelling, called Loch-an-t-Shomhairle, pronounced Loch-an-tawail, which may have been probably one of Somerled's residences on the mainland. The Loch (now a moss) in which it was situated, is still known as Loch-an-beich, or the "lake of Birches", although no birch trees have grown there for many generations. The moss is situated in the neighbourhood of Benderloch, between Loch Etive and Loch Creran, and in this locality dwelt, time immemorial, a family of the Macdougalls, descended from Somerled;s eldest son, Dougall. This family endowned the priory of Ardchattan, which was their place of burial.

(see Dr R Angus Smiths, list of Antiquities near Loch Etive p20) The district of Benderloch was, no doubt, an attractive locality, even so late as the time of Somerled.

This is from a newspaper article - is this Eriska - or something in Loch Creran

The Scotsman - Thursday - 15th February 1872 p4
In the lake dwelling at Barcaldine, two fireplaces, with abundant traces of occupation, a piece of an iron knife, a slipper of skin, rather neatly made, and several other objects, were found.

Unless otherwise stated, the content of this page is licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 License