Ancient crannogs were used by prehistoric elites to throw lavish parties and display their wealth and power, according to new research.
Rannogs are artificial islands built on lakes, wetlands or estuaries in Ireland and Great Britain.
‘The lakes around the Crannog are shallow; The material is quickly deposited there and never washed away,” said Professor Antony Brown of the UiT Arctic University of Norway, who reported the findings with colleagues in the journal antiquity.
Archaeologists believe that crannogs were used for more than 5,000 years, from the Neolithic to the early 18th century, and several hundred of them were built across Ireland and Britain.
These latest findings are based on scientific analysis of DNA in sediments collected from three Crannog sites, one in Scotland and two in Ireland.
The scientists said this revealed evidence of animal husbandry and slaughter, food storage and crafts, suggesting they were used for festivals and ceremonial activities.
Other previous research had found that some crannogs built in Scotland’s Outer Hebrides even predated Stonehenge.
British crannogs have been associated with Arthurian legends.
Archaeologists believe that crannogs were constructed by piling any available material – stone, wood or peat – onto a raised portion of the lake bed.
They were used as homesteads in the Iron Age, but archaeologists say they were used as party venues from the fifth century.
The scientists combined the latest information with evidence from previous studies of pollen and animal bones at crannog sites to formulate a theory that crannogs were used as ancient party sites.
The researchers also used so-called SedaDNA analysis to show that humans grow cereal crops on the crannogs.
This also revealed that unusual plants such as bracken, a type of poisonous fern, were brought to crannogs to be used as bedding or roofing material.
“Given how little we really still know about crannogs and the human activities surrounding them, the methods and results described here are very interesting,” said Professor Simon Hammann, a food chemist at the Friedrich Alexander University in Germany.
https://www.independent.ie/irish-news/crannogs-were-prehistoric-elite-party-islands-42027978.html Crannogs were prehistoric “party islands” of the elite