Islands of Stone


The main aims of this project are as follows:

Establish, through desk-based research and subsequent ground-truthing, whether Neolithic crannogs are widespread across the Outer Hebrides (and potentially also beyond).

This will be achieved through:

Data mining – detailed research of Historic Environment Scotlands’ (HES) and other archives to comprehensively assess existing resources

Maching learning – remote-sensing image analysis and automated feature extraction technologies to identify new, previously undocumented islets

Ground-truthing – underwater and terrestrial surveys at 20 of the most promising sites to recover further information including dating evidence.

Conduct underwater and dry-land excavation on a known, highly-promising ‘showcase’ Neolithic crannog and undertake associated cutting-edge scientific analyses in order to ascertain its character and function.

This will be achieved through:

Excavation – dry-land excavation of the crannog to identify surface structures and occupation deposits and underwater excavation of sediments around the island, which are known to contain Neolithic worked timbers

Targeted palaeoenvironmental work – in depth scientific analysis to ascertain the practices associated with the site and any environmental changes linked to its occupation (see 2021 Interim Report)

Wider survey and palaeoenvironmental work – landscape survey and environmental sampling to understand its immediate wider context (see 2021 Interim Report).

Increase the quality of ‘heritage experience’ for visitors to the Outer Hebrides.

This will be achieved through:

App tour and other 3D content – an app tour in close collaboration with the Ordnance Survey to enable visitors to tour and learn more about the islands’ prehistoric sites and other 3D content will be generated throughout the course of the project

Pop-up exhibitions about the project at two regional airports and three museums.