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19 August 2005
Work resumes at Iron Age Crannog site

The Scottish Trust for Underwater Archaeology or STUA,  builders of the Scottish Crannog Centre at Kenmore, Loch Tay, has now resumed work at the early Iron Age site of Oakbank Crannog, near the village of Fearnan.
     Students from the USA and Great Britain are all taking part in this unique field school, which is providing them with training in underwater recording and excavation techniques. This year's excavation is focused on the outer perimeter of the 2,600 year-old site, where recent evidence of a building catastrophe has been uncovered.
     Archaeologists know that the site was inhabited for perhaps 200 years or more, and several phases of building and repairs have been identified. They have now uncovered clear evidence that at one point during a period of abandonment, the eastern part of the house at the site as well as the outer walkway had given way and began sagging, causing the breaking up of that part of the house.
     Timbers that once stood upright have been found lying in the same direction, some still preserved with the splintered remains from impact.  Dr Nicholas Dixon, research fellow at Edinburgh University and chairman of the STUA said, "One of the challenges in interpreting this type of site relates to the phases of building and rebuilding. Normally, unless we completely excavate through the layers to find the tips of the uprights we cannot tell whether they are primary or repair timbers. In this instance, the alignment of so many fallen timbers and the split remains where uprights were fractured provides clear evidence of a significant episode of collapse."
     Most of the artifacts discovered at the Oakbank Crannog relate to woodworking and building, and had included the use of wooden pegs, twisted hazel fragments and bits of rope made from twisted willow or hazel. Several pine tapers or "candles" have also been found, while one of the most interesting finds is part of a tiny circular object with the remains of a handle present. This delicately hand-carved piece of wood is incredibly fragile and wafer thin. It is thought to be the remains of a spatula-type utensil.
     The present Crannog Crew at Kenmore is faced with the issues of constantly having to replace the most exposed timbers. The team is now searching for tall oak trees, which will last   longest and make the most effective replacements. The Crew wants to hear from anyone who has oak woodland who would be willing to contribute some timber.  For details, to book a place or to help with the centre's wood needs, contact 01887 830583 or Email info@crannog.co.uk.

Source: The Courier (16 August 2005)

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