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Eilean nan Clach, crannog

A Scheduled Monument in Inverness South, Highland

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Coordinates

Latitude: 57.3804 / 57°22'49"N

Longitude: -4.0358 / 4°2'8"W

OS Eastings: 277700

OS Northings: 834052

OS Grid: NH777340

Mapcode National: GBR J9D6.XR7

Mapcode Global: WH4GY.ZRCG

Entry Name: Eilean nan Clach, crannog

Scheduled Date: 21 March 2007

Source: Historic Environment Scotland

Source ID: SM11447

Schedule Class: Cultural

Category: Prehistoric domestic and defensive: crannog; Secular: crannog (with post-prehistoric use)

Location: Moy and Dalarossie

County: Highland

Electoral Ward: Inverness South

Traditional County: Inverness-shire

Description

The monument comprises a crannog (an artificial island) at the S end of Loch Moy that is between 2700 and 1000 years old.

The crannog is composed of well-compacted stones, although 19th-century investigations recorded that the stone rested on wooden piles. On top of the island is a rough pile of stones, or cairn, approximately 1.2 m in diameter at its base, and 0.9 m high.

Since its last occupation, the surrounding loch has been drained and considerably lowered. A history of the loch, written in the 1790s, suggests that the crannog was entirely submerged at this time.

Traditionally, the crannog was associated with the administration of justice by the local lord/chief, who had his residence on another island in the loch, 120 m to the north. However, details of the traditions conflict. One says that the crannog was the site of the gallows where wrong-doers were executed, which may account for the cairn, although crannogs with small cairns built on them are a common occurrence. The second states that the accused had to wait for 24 hours on the crannog until judgement was passed, with the guilty facing the gallows at the southern end of the loch.

The area to be scheduled is circular on plan, centred on the crannog, to include the crannog and any associated archaeological deposits above and below the present water mark, as marked in red on the accompanying map.

Source: Historic Environment Scotland

Statement of Scheduling

Cultural Significance

The monument's archaeological significance can be expressed as follows:

Intrinsic characteristics: The monument is a good example of a little understood monument form that was constructed throughout northern and western Scotland in later prehistory and the early medieval period, remaining in use into the 17th century. The preservation of timbers at the base of the crannog mound suggests that there is high potential for the preservation of other organic archaeological deposits associated with the crannog's original use and occupation. The high levels of preservation at this site indicates that it can inform future research into crannog construction techniques and has the potential to shed light on the past environs of the crannog and the socio-economic lifestyles of its inhabitants.

Contextual characteristics: Numerous crannogs have small cairns built upon their summits, the reason for this is, as yet, unknown, but the preservation of any example can only aid future understanding of this issue. Additionally, it is common for crannogs that were in use in the Middle Ages to be associated with early ecclesiastical sites, lordly residences and judiciary administration. This example lies to the S of an island lordly residence, cartographic evidence reveals a church with a 'kirk' place-name on the shore immediately to the W of the crannog, and it has traditional associations with being a place of confinement and/or execution. This monument has the potential to inform on an understanding of these associations and their place at the heart of medieval Gaelic/Highland lordships.

National Importance

The monument is of national importance because it is a fine and well-preserved example of a monument of its type. It has the potential to inform upon the methods and dating of crannog construction, as well as about the status and life style of the difference people that may have occupied the crannogs throughout later prehistory and/or the early historic period. Together with an understanding of its landscape setting and associated monument types, it can also expand our understanding of the role of crannogs in the administration of lordly practices throughout the medieval period, and later. The loss of this example would severely hinder our understanding of these issues.

Source: Historic Environment Scotland

Sources

Bibliography

RCAHMS record the monument as NH73SE3 and it is recorded in the Highland SMR as NH73SE0003.

Aerial photographs:

91/01/1/26, 1991, Monument and Castle. Highland Regional Council.

References:

ISSFC 1888, 'Excursion to Craggie and Loch Moy. Saturday 4th June 1881', TRANS INVERNESS SCI SOC FLD CLUB 2, 109.

Meldrum E A 1972, LOCH MOY AND ITS ISLANDS. HIGHLAND INDUSTRIES AT MOY HALL.

Stuart J 1868, 'Notice of a group of artifical islands in the Loch of Dowalton, Wigtonshire, and of other artificial islands or Crannogs throughout Scotland', PROC SOC ANTIQ SCOT, 1868, 18-20.

Source: Historic Environment Scotland

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