Loch Awe crannogs 1972 – the project
To locate and define any lake-dwellings or crannogs in Loch Awe, Argyll, Scotland. If time allowed, to survey any found
Several crannog sites had been suggested from the literature (eg Campbell and Sandeman's inventory of monuments) and from local contacts, but none had had any underwater examination or survey done. Since most of the small, possibly artificial islands in the loch are normally wholly or partly submerged, diving would be a necessary part of the survey. The intention was to find and observe known examples, search probable sites for others, and, if time permitted, to tape survey any found.
Where to look?
At the beginning of the survey we had prepared a list of 60 possible sites for examination. How we came up with these:
all were on likely stretches of bottom (ie not more than 30 ft/10 m deep), taken from the Murray & Pullar Bathymetrical Survey of Scottish Lochs (1910). On these depth charts, small islands, occasionally noted as artificial, were marked
aerial photos, showing shallows or islands of suitable size
the 6" to the mile Ordnance Survey maps. The Ordnance Survey had indexes of ancient monuments for inclusion in their maps. Several islands in Loch Awe were provisionally suggested as crannogs
local information, from local antiquaries and lochside residents
How to look?
Although having dived on individual crannogs before, we had never thought of tackling a survey of this scale. Going to Loch Awe for a reconnaissance in August 1972, with the loch at its normal level, gave pause for thought. The visible islands were obvious – those we could find from the sources above. But what of subsurface remains, crannogs that were normally underwater and might not show on the sources? How were we going to search over so many square miles of water?
We thought we might have to do swim-searches from known sites, so reckoned we might need numbers of personnel. We would have to see how feasible all this was when we got the process under way later in the year.
It's a big loch, with many natural glacial islands suitable for crannog building – if it suited the builders. It's likely that good land on shore would be a factor in siting your crannog, maybe blending refuge with access. These two islands, with no man-made additions that we could find, are towards the northern end, far out in the loch near Inishail.
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