On 24 April, myself and Laura McHaride (a fellow PhD student) went out coring at the Loch of Leys. We collected cores through the sediment that made up the bottom of the former loch. This loch has a crannog which has the distinction of being the very first recorded excavation of crannog in Scotland. The work Laura and myself and have begun hopes to develop an understanding of what is going on in the wider landscape through pollen analysis of the cored sediment. Laura will be leading the pollen analysis (this kind of scientific method is outside of my skill set), and I hope to complement this work with more investigation at the crannog itself.
The Loch of Leys crannog has an interesting history, not only for being the very first to be excavated. The island is referenced in a charter dated 1324 and signed by Robert the Bruce who gives the island to the Burnett family. In the late 15th century the family built a new residence, Crathes Castle which was occupied into the 20th century. This family still owns the land today, and Crathes Castle is now a National Trust property. 1324 is the earliest mention of this crannog, but it is clear in the charter that the island is already occupied. Robert the Bruce takes the land, the loch and ‘the island within it’ from the Wauchope family and gives it to the Burnetts. So we know that the island must have been built and occupied before this time. The excavation of the crannog in 1850 after the loch was drained is recorded, but details are vague. From descriptions of the excavation is clear that island itself is wholly artificial and the kind of construction described is consistent with an Iron Age or Early Medieval crannog – much earlier than the historic references mention. You can read the Canmore site record [[here]] and the 1850 excavation [[here]]. Results will take some time to gather from the core, and updates will be posted here in due course.