The project aim is to build up a database of the location of crannogs in the Highlands and to investigate a select few in greater detail. Canmore records 83 Highland crannogs but it is likely there are many more. For instance, only 5 are listed in the whole of Ross and Cromarty.
For the purpose of this exercise, we are defining crannogs as small islands in freshwater lochs which are entirely or partially man-made. There is no maximum or minimum size but as a general rule, think of a big hut circle surrounded by water. The area of dry land may have increased or decreased over time, due to changes in water levels and erosion. They are typically circular or ovoid and consist of a pile of rocks of fairly uniform size, no bigger than a two-man lift. There has been very little investigation since antiquarian times.
Phase 1 of the project is a desktop exercise to systematically examine maps, satellite imagery, Lidar and aerial photographs to identify unrecorded crannogs and verify any previously recorded ones.
To keep things manageable, we have decided to start with the 100km OS grid square prefaced NH. The corners of this square are, very roughly, NW- Scoraig, NE - Golspie, SW- Loch Quoich, SE- Cairngorm ski centre. It is proposed to allocate blocks of four 10km x 10km squares to interested volunteers. That’s 25 blocks and so far we have about 15 volunteers.
A crannog identification form has been devised, together with some notes on completion. The form is available on the website and the intention is that it should be completed electronically. The information required is: Where is this possible crannog? Is it already recorded? How likely is it to be a crannog? How accessible is it? Is it covered in trees and bushes? Is there a lot of other archaeology nearby? There is also a space for comments which could include for example the presence of a causeway linking the crannog to the shore, or a note to say what archaeological investigation has already taken place.
A training session is to be held at 19:00 on Tuesday 28 September, at the Muir Hub. This will demonstrate the use of Pastmap and Bing Aerial and how you can check lidar imagery, which may help you to judge the likelihood of your find actually being a crannog and may also identify other unrecorded archaeology in the vicinity. We might end up finding a lot more than just crannogs!