Islands of Stone

Islands of Stone

Exploring artificial islets in the Western Isles

The Islands of Stone project, led by Fraser Sturt (University of Southampton), Duncan Garrow (University of Reading) and Angela Gannon (Historic Environment Scotland) and funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council was created to further investigate artificial islets (often known as crannogs) in the Outer Hebrides. Crannogs are an evocative category of archaeological site and are widely dispersed geographically and chronologically. They are located across Scotland and Ireland and are generally considered to date anywhere between the Late Bronze Age and post-medieval periods. Over 550 crannogs (and related site types) are recorded in Scotland, with the Outer Hebrides representing a particular hotspot in their distribution. There are currently 170 known sites in the Outer Hebrides, and the vast majority of these remain completely undated.

This project was thus created to establish whether – as now expected – Neolithic crannogs are widespread in the Outer Hebrides (and potentially beyond); to further understand their character through excavations and survey of one ‘showcase’ site on the Isle of Lewis; to reveal their potential to produce preserved organics and high-resolution environmental sequences; and to assess the significance of this site type within broader narratives of the British and European Neolithic.

‘Showcase’ site on the Isle of Lewis