One day in 2012 Chris Murray is diving in the cold waters of Loch Arnish on Lewis, an island off the west coast of Scotland. He’s exploring around an ancient man-made island on the lake. These islands, called crannogs, are dotted around the Scotland and Ireland. And what he finds on the loch bed will overturn the accepted history of crannogs in the former country.
These crannogs can be wholly are partially man-made and they’re found in lochs, rivers or estuaries. For many years they were believed to date back to the Iron Age, about 2,800 years ago. They were mostly built with either stone or timber, or a combination of the two. Having created those islands, ancient peoples then erected buildings on them, again made of wood or stone.
Scotland, for its part, altogether has some 570 crannogs, sometimes also known as island duns. Around 170 of the Scottish crannogs are located on the islands of the Outer Hebrides. One of those is Lewis where Murray was investigating the Loch Arnish site. Ireland too has roughly 2,000 crannogs, while just one is to be found in the third Celtic part of Britain, Wales.