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Crannogs are artificial islands in the middle of lakes. Used from about 1000 BCE to 1600 CE, the crannogs allowed for greater protection from attack. The name “crannog” is derived from the Irish root—“crann” which means “tree” and relates to the use of wood. To make a crannog, the people would dump timber, earth, and stones onto a lake or river bed.

Some crannogs were connected to the land by stone causeways which were often constructed in a zig-zag pattern to protect the approach. Dugout canoes were commonly used to reach the island as well. There are at least 1,200 known crannogs in Ireland.

Crannog 1722

Crannog 1711

Crannog 1712

Shown above is Bolin Island on Lough Gur. Archaeological excavation found that the island was formed by large boulders and the interior was filled with brushwood and earth. It measures about 30 meters in diameter and had timber structures in the interior. Archaeologists feel that it had a timber palisade or fence around the perimeter for defensive purposes.

Crannog 1690

Shown above is an artist’s conception of what the Bolin Island crannog would have looked like.

Shown below are photographs of the reconstructed crannog at Craggaunowen which shows more about what life was like in a crannog.

Crannog 1826

Crannog 1827

Crannog 1848

house 447

House 1851

Crannog 1828

Shown above is a typical round house using a wattle-and-daub system for the walls and a thatched roof.

House 1850

Shown above is a larger oval-shaped house.

Thatch 1844

Shown above is a detail of the thatched roof.

Interior 1831

interior 1833

Interior 1834

Interior 1840

Shown above are the house interiors.

Bed 1836

Shown above is a bed made using a woven frame and a straw/grass mattress.

Boat 1837

Since crannogs were located on artificial islands, boats were important to the people both for transportation to the crannog as well as for fishing. Shown above is a round boat made from a pole frame covered with skin. This is similar to the bullboats found among American Indians, such as the Mandan, Hidatsa, and Arikara.

Canoe 544

For the ancient Irish, water ways were not barriers, but a kind of super highway. Shown above is a dugout canoe which is on display in the National Museum in Dublin.

Fence 1852

Shown above is a fence which was made using a woven pole and post system.

field 1845

field 1856

The people who lived in the crannogs were farmers who had gardens and raised some livestock. Shown above is a garden plot or field which would have been on the mainland. Due to the climate, some of the fields were very wet and required extra drainage. Ridges were formed in the fields to raise the seeds above ground level and provide additional drainage. The cereal crops included oats, wheat, and barley. They also raised peas and beans.

Energy 1853

Energy has been a concern for humans for the past couple of hundred thousand years. Shown above are the two primary energy sources used in the crannogs: peat and firewood.

Originally posted to Shamrock American Kossacks on Sun Jun 17, 2012 at 08:36 AM PDT.

Also republished by History for Kossacks, SciTech, and J Town.

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