She explained that the ancient inhabitants of the loch kept a variety of pets, while also cultivating crops such as starch, spelled and barley. They cultivated plants such as flax to make ropes and textiles, and used opium poppy seeds and other plants for medicinal purposes. “Weeds such as nettles and fatty hens were common potted grasses,” she added. “Nettles were also said to have been made into rope, twine and fiber for textiles. Fragments of woven woolen textile were found at Oakbank on Loch Tay – a rare and exciting find which indicated that the first crannog inhabitants of the age of iron practiced highly skilled weaving. “
As a founding member of the Scottish Wetlands Archeology ProgramAnne Crone has been another key figure in crannog research, in the field of dendrochronology – the scientific study of ancient woods – for which crannogs provide a wonderful case study.
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“Crannogs are a dendrochronologists’ delight because the wood is used so liberally in their construction and because the wood survives so well under the anaerobic conditions of the crannog,” she said. “Dendrochronology allows logging to be dated to the calendar year, and therefore we can develop very precise chronologies for the construction and occupation of a crannog.”
The explorations of Crone and others uncover unique finds across Scotland. “We often find objects that we never find in terrestrial archaeological sites, such as leather, wooden objects and textiles,” she said. “There are some fantastic finds, including assemblages from Loch Glashan in Argyll which are on display in Glasgow’s Kelvingrove Museum, and the findings of Buiston crannog in Ayrshire exhibited in the National Museum of Scotland in Edinburgh. These both include an array of wooden items, as well as a leather satchel at Loch Glashan. “
In addition to traditional hands-on research – think drysuit divers patiently digging through silt in icy lakes – Crannog’s students also draw on modern technology. “The techniques we have applied include side scan sonar, dual frequency single beam echo sounder [to determine waterÂ depth], underwater and aerial photogrammetry [to create 2D and 3D models], real-time kinematic GPS survey, paleoenvironmental coring [to provide a cross-section of natural activity through time], terrestrial excavation and radiocarbon dating, âsaid Garrow.
Following the discovery of Murray’s pottery, Google Earth helped identify other potential Hebridean crannog sites, including Loch Arnish, Loch Langabhat, and Loch Borgastail; while Andrian uses drones, planes and even kites with cameras attached to sites.