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Sacred geography – Picts – Crannogs 02

Identifier

026484

Type of Spiritual Experience

Background

A description of the experience

Eilean Dhomhnaill in Loch Olabhat

The earliest known construction of a crannog is the completely artificial Neolithic islet of Eilean Dòmhnuill, Loch Olabhat on North Uist in Scotland. Eilean Domhnuill has produced radiocarbon dates ranging from 3650 to 2500 BC.  The archaeologists classify these periods as ‘Neolithic’, but we are talking about the same mystic movement – the Picts – and the same people and their ancestors, Crannog construction and occupation was at its peak in mainland Scotland from about 800 BC to AD 200.

Loch Katrine

When timber was available, many were surrounded by a circle of wooden piles with axe-sharpened bases that were driven into the bottom, forming a circular enclosure that helped to retain the main mound and prevent erosion.

The piles could also be joined together by mortise and tenon, or large holes cut to carefully accept specially shaped timbers designed to interlock and provide structural rigidity. On other examples, interior surfaces were built up with any mixture of clay, peat, stone, or timber– whatever was available.  Other types of crannogs saw the occupants add large stones to the waterline of small natural islets, extending and enlarging them over successive phases of renewal.

Access was either via coracles or stone causeways.  Many causeways are now submerged, but this may simply be a by-product of loch level fluctuations over the ensuing centuries or indeed millennia. Organic remains are often found in excellent condition on these water-logged sites. The bones of cattle, deer, and boar have been found in excavated crannogs, these are totem animals, indicating that sacrifice may have taken place [possibly followed by feasting].

Centre of photo - a crannog on Loch Tay covered now in trees

The source of the experience

Picts

Concepts, symbols and science items

Concepts

Totem group

Symbols

Activities and commonsteps

Activities

Commonsteps

References