This past Sunday (9 March), myself and three other members of the Aberdeen University Sub-Aqua Club went to the Muir of Dinnet National Nature Reserve to attempt to identify and locate a crannog in Loch Davan, Aberdeenshire. The possible crannog was observed in aerial photographs taken in 1995, which suggested that the site lay near the western shore of the loch.
In March 2012 I attempted to locate this site but was unsuccessful. This was the first time I managed to get back and I was very hopeful that we would be able to locate the site and take a sample for radiocarbon dating. Unfortunately, I was not able to find the site. I suspect there are two possibilities. The first is that I am simply looking in the wrong place and the second is that there simply is no crannog to be found. It remains to be seen which proves to be true, but that this site has remained elusive for so long now is frustrating.
The day was not a total failure though. We took the opportunity to get back into Loch Kinord to go find the possible logboat which was first identified back in 2011. We got into position thinking that the possible logboat would be 5-10 metres in front of us. However, we ended up coming down almost right on top of it. Sadly, the result was that we kicked up loads of silt before getting a good look at it. We returned to the spot 30 minutes later to see if things had settled down, but they had not, so we gave up on getting good photos of the logboat.
We were very pleasantly surprised by the relatively good visibility. So we took the opportunity to swim around the crannog and see what there was to see. We located a pile, and we also got some good looks at some of the rubble which makes up the mound of Castle Island. But the highlight was the best look yet at the timber which was radiocarbon dated to the 10th century AD. It is an intriguing find, not least because the mystery of what the timber might have been used for. It is located just off the artificial mound which makes up the crannog.
All in all, it was a day of mixed results at best. I doubt now that there will be another chance to get into Loch Davan or Loch Kinord until after bird breeding season which ends 30 July. But this time will offer a chance to really think about the possible Loch Davan crannog and dream about the enormous potential of further work at Castle Island. I will be linking a short video clip of the dive from last Sunday, so check back soon.
p.s. I must thank Kelsey Padgett, Seòna Wells, and Tim Stephen for coming along and making the dives possible.