Last weekend I was in Edinburgh presenting my research at the annual Iron Age Research Student Symposium. The paper I gave concerned loch drainage as identified using the Roy Military Survey of Scotland (1747-1755). My arguments seemed to be well received by the conference attendees. The results of the research I presented now leaves me with a list of possible crannogs in drained areas. Over the summer I will examining these sites to test my hypothesis, are these sites crannogs? Below is the abstract for the presentation.
Crannogs possibly represent the most archaeological potential of any single site type in Scotland. This is due to the preservation conditions of their waterlogged or submerged nature, but also for the vast quantity recorded in the country, with counts ranging from 400-600 and some suggestions of over 1000. Despite this potential, very few have been excavated in the past 60 years owing again to their submerged or waterlogged locations. Additionally, all excavations and most other work has been conducted in two specific regions of Scotland – the southwest and Loch Tay, Perthshire. This paper argues that the reason for this geographical focus is not a reflection of the past distribution of crannog sites, rather this bias stems from the timing and location of loch drainage in the 18th and 19th centuries. Through an analysis of the Roy Military Survey of Scotland, editions of the Ordnance Survey, and the Statistical Accounts of Scotland it is clear that drainage in eastern parts of Scotland was more widespread and occurred at an earlier date than elsewhere in Scotland. The ramifications for our understanding of crannog distribution and survival will be emphasised. One important observation is that the research focus on southwest Scotland is, in large part, due to the fact that drainage occurred here when antiquarians, most notably Robert Munro, were around to monitor its effects. This paper will call for the established distribution of crannogs to be reconsidered in favour of a broader and less regionalised model.