The Initial Survey

For my undergraduate dissertation, I proposed to undertake an exploratory survey of Loch Kinord, Aberdeenshire. After getting permission from my supervisor, Dr. Gordon Noble, and relevant land owners and cultural heritage administrators, I organised a group of volunteers from the Aberdeen University Sub-Aqua Club (AUSAC) to help out with the diving survey.

The goal of this survey was pretty straight forward. We were going to simply have a look around the submerged sections of the crannogs in Loch Kinord to assess what material survives on the loch bed. The two crannogs in question are called Castle Island and Prison Island, and they are very clearly seen from the north shore of loch should you ever visit.

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A view from Castle Island, looking West.

On the very first dive we came across the classic structural feature of crannogs – the driven wooden pile. Over the course of three days myself and the AUSAC volunteers identified over a dozen wooden structural features which were extant on the mound of the crannogs – that is to say we located the easily findable stuff that was just laying around each crannog. And that is a really great way to put it, as these archaeological features are so rich, that huge (up to 4m long) timber elements of the crannog are simply lying on the rocky mound which makes up the small islet.

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A section of a 3m long timber from Castle Island, radiocarbon dated to the 10th century AD.

Before the survey it was still unclear whether Castle Island was natural, partially artificial or totally artificial, but I am very confident that we were able to observe that Castle Island is at least partially artificial with striking similarities in the size of stones used to make up both of the islets. We also located what may be part of a logboat just to the west of Castle Island, but visibility conditions limited our ability to positively identify the possible wooden vessel.

Our dives ended here after three short days. It is needless to say that there is much more material simply lying around on the bed of Loch Kinord, not to mention what treasures are certain to be found within the structural mounds of Castle and Prison Islands.

This work was conducted in August and October 2011, and I am sorry to say that I have not managed to organise a return trip. However, getting back into Loch Kinord is a high priority for my PhD research, and I expect to be able to report here on these findings in the near future.

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