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Langbank, crannog 180m ENE of Clydeview

A Scheduled Monument in Bishopton, Bridge of Weir and Langbank, Renfrewshire

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Coordinates

Latitude: 55.9277 / 55°55'39"N

Longitude: -4.5925 / 4°35'33"W

OS Eastings: 238121

OS Northings: 673548

OS Grid: NS381735

Mapcode National: GBR 0L.ZD8M

Mapcode Global: WH3NQ.F89L

Entry Name: Langbank, crannog 180m ENE of Clydeview

Scheduled Date: 24 February 2011

Source: Historic Environment Scotland

Source ID: SM12894

Schedule Class: Cultural

Category: Prehistoric domestic and defensive: crannog

Location: Erskine

County: Renfrewshire

Electoral Ward: Bishopton, Bridge of Weir and Langbank

Traditional County: Renfrewshire

Description

The monument comprises the remains of a marine crannog dating probably from the Iron Age. Clearly visible at low tide as a conspicuous oval mound of seaweed-covered stones, the crannog measures approximately 30m north-south by 20m transversely.

The crannog now forms part of the tip of a small coastal promontory of low relief, which is visible only at low tide. There has been no recorded excavation at this site but, on the basis of investigations at other marine crannogs in the area, this crannog may date to sometime between 1000 BC and AD 400. Both the crannog and the promontory are clearly visible on aerial photographs of the site.

The area to be scheduled is a slightly truncated circle on plan, with a maximum diameter of 65m, to include the remains described above and an area around them within which evidence relating to the monument's construction, use and abandonment may survive, as shown in red on the accompanying map.

Source: Historic Environment Scotland

Statement of Scheduling

Cultural Significance

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

Intrinsic characteristics

Records suggest that this site has not been disturbed by earlier excavations and there are no signs of degradation due to coastal erosion because the crannogis located within the less exposed sections of the Clyde estuary. Consequently the visible remains appear to be in very good condition. The likely high quality of archaeological preservation at the site was underlined by the discovery of a possible deer antler tool among seaweed-covered stones in October 2009.

Like two nearby marine crannogs further to the east, this site preserves evidence for structural remains. These take the form of a prominent sub-rectangular mound of stones, situated in the SE quadrant of the crannog. Given that this side of the monument faces the shoreline, this could have formed part of an entrance or internal structure.

Although timberwork was an integral part of crannog construction, relatively little wood is visible at this site, unlike the crannog near Mar Hall (Erskine Bridge). In 1972, the Renfrew Archaeological Society reported a 'well-defined ring of piles, especially on the west side'. During the 2009 visit, three wooden posts were noted immediately beyond the western edge of the crannog's stony mound. These visible timbers suggest there is high potential for further buried structural timberwork to survive within the seabed sediments. Given that the area appears to be stable and that any sub-seabed remains will be waterlogged, it is likely that buried elements will be well-preserved. Any surviving organic and environmental artefacts and deposits have the potential to reveal much information about the crannog's construction and maintenance, its function and its subsequent abandonment. If the crannog was in use towards the latter end of the estimated date range, the monument may also have the potential to inform our understanding of the impact of Roman occupation of this area of the Clyde estuary in the 1st and 2nd centuries AD.

Contextual characteristics

A crannog is a man-made platform or island, built of timber and stone, standing partly or wholly in a loch, river or estuary. Most Scottish crannogs are found in freshwater lochs and rivers, with a distribution spread from the Hebrides to southern Scotland. At present, only nine marine crannogs are known, five in the Clyde Estuary and a complex in the Beauly Firth. Most crannogs date to the later prehistoric and early historic periods, from roughly 1000 BC to about AD 1000. Some crannog sites appear to have been built and occupied as late as the 14th century.

Recent academic research suggests that marine crannogs served a different purpose to those found in freshwater lochs and rivers, although there are similarities in their construction and, in some cases, their dating. Instead of being occupied for settlement, these sites are presently regarded as crossing points or staging posts for larger coastal boats and for smaller craft used on the upper reaches of the Clyde.

Building a crannog probably demanded significant woodworking expertise, as well as a sizeable pool of labour and access to suitable timber. A site such as this stood on a mound of stone with substantial wooden piles driven into it. These piles supported a timber platform, usually oval or circular, on which there would have been a circular timber house. A stockade or fence probably enclosed the platform. A crannog may have had a dock or a place for small boats to tie up, while some appear to have been linked to the shore by causeways. At Langbank East, a double row of boulders appears to mark the route of a causeway connecting it to dry land. Logboats have been found on or close to several crannog sites across Scotland.

Associative characteristics

On the River Clyde, there are the remains of five marine crannogs on the estuarine shore, although it is highly likely that others existed and their remains have been destroyed by later development. The known crannogs are found on both sides of the river and are located in an area from Old Kilpatrick to Langbank. All five marine crannogs lie just off promontories (as in this case) or occupy prominent sandbanks (as at Mar Hall).

Of the five crannogs, Dumbuck remains the best-known site. Substantially excavated in the 1890s, Dumbuck captured public imagination through a series of illustrated reports prepared by its excavator, William Donnelly, for the London Illustrated News. However, a series of forged artefacts 'recovered' from Dumbuck sparked a substantial and long-running controversy in the Scottish archaeological community.

National Importance

This monument is of national importance because it has an inherent potential to make a significant addition to our understanding of the past, in particular relating to marine crannogs, their dating, construction and function. It is a rare example of a marine crannog, a monument type of which there is scarce evidence across Scotland. Recent research suggests that marine crannogs functioned differently to freshwater crannogs and this monument has excellent potential to enhance significantly our understanding of the role of crannogs in the Iron Age and, possibly, early historic period. The monument also has good potential to improve our understanding of Iron Age society and economy as it is highly likely to contain well-preserved organic and artefactual remains, while other palaeoenvironmental evidence can tell us much about the climate and landscape when the crannog was built and in use. The loss of this monument would significantly diminish our ability to understand the place and function of marine crannogs in later prehistory, as well as our ability to appreciate their association with the wider landscape and the role of the River Clyde in the economy of the area at that time.

Source: Historic Environment Scotland

Sources

Bibliography

RCAHMS record the site as NS 37SE 9. The West of Scotland Archaeology Service SMR designation is NS 37 SE 6989. The site is owned by the RSPB, managed through their South and West Regional office and lies within the Inner Clyde SSSI (SNH ref: 1701).

Source: Historic Environment Scotland

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