NS4173 : Dumbuck Crannog: piles and platform

taken 3 years ago, near to Milton, West Dunbartonshire, Great Britain

Dumbuck Crannog: piles and platform
Dumbuck Crannog: piles and platform
Expand the end-note for a detailed description; click on the end-note title for related pictures.

The present picture shows the part that is nearest the Clyde. The crannog had oak piles to support it; some stumps, remains of those piles, are still visible, arranged in a ring. In this picture, more than half a dozen of them can be seen: three are in a pool just ahead, while the others can be seen behind, curving away to the left (with a bit of a modern metal stick stuck into the mud just behind them).

Another original feature that can be seen in this picture is on the left: remains of some of the timbers making up the platform of the crannog. See also NS4173 : Dumbuck Crannog: radial timbers, showing another part of the platform. Note that all of my pictures (on this occasion and on other days) were taken from outside the bounds of the crannog, so as not to damage any of these ancient remains.

The Erskine Bridge is in the right background.
Dumbuck Crannog

This is the best-preserved of several crannogs located within the inner Clyde estuary. The crannog is set on mudflats, rather than a sandy beach, and it is often submerged, being completely uncovered for only a few hours at low tide, when it appears a dark circular seaweed-covered shape on the shore. See LinkExternal link (at Canmore) for archaeological details of Dumbuck Crannog.

Crannogs are "partly or wholly man-made islands which supported timber buildings". For a concise account of this site, see "Archaeology around Glasgow", Susan Hothersall, Glasgow Archaeological Society, 2007. Recent research has dated the remains to between 200BC and 200AD, and suggests that it was a water-side platform rather than a dwelling [A.G.C. Hale, "Scottish Marine Crannogs", 2004, Oxford].

There may have been a timber building standing out on the platform. There was also a dug-out canoe moored nearby (described by the original excavators as "the great war canoe"), and an oak ladder, four metres in length, for getting to the canoe (at the time of writing, the ladder could be seen on display in Kelvingrove Museum, forming part of the "Scotland's First People" exhibition; the author of the present shared description has viewed it there: the wood is very blackened from age, but the structure of the ladder is intact).

The platform here was about 50 feet wide, and it is still possible to see the remains of more than twenty oak piles arranged in a circle; they are visible as a ring of wooden stumps protruding above the mud. Within that circle, some of the horizontal timbers of the platform can also be seen. Outside the circle of piles was a stone and timber breakwater.

The site was excavated in 1898 by the Helensburgh Naturalist and Antiquarian Society; this is the same association who excavated nearby Dumbuie Dun Link in 1895. Just as with that earlier dig, the crannog site was liberally "salted" with fascinating objects that caused great controversy at the time, and which are now known to be fakes. For more on that topic, see the book "Controversy on the Clyde Archaeologists, Fakes and Forgers: The Excavation of Dumbuck Crannog", by Hale and Sands, RCAHMS; the book gives a detailed description of the site, describes how the crannog would have looked when in use, and includes an extensive list of references for further reading.

Dumbuck Crannog has been excavated more recently: in the 1990s and in 2000.

At the time of the first excavation in 1898, a burn, the Witches Plantain Burn, flowed in a straight line past the west side of the crannog; its old course can still clearly be seen there, marked by long straight line of seaweed-covered stones. The burn now follows a more sinuous course past the other side of the crannog.

As noted above, there are several other crannogs in the inner estuary of the River Clyde:

● Erskine Crannog Link at NS45477291; see LinkExternal link at Canmore;
● Langbank East Crannog (or Westferry Crannog) at NS40507318; see LinkExternal link at Canmore;
● Langbank West Crannog at NS38147355; see LinkExternal link at Canmore;
● See LinkExternal link at Canmore for another report, but note the comments there from 2015.

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NS4173, 35 images   (more nearby search)
Photographer
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Date Taken
Friday, 9 February, 2018   (more nearby)
Submitted
Saturday, 17 February, 2018
Geographical Context
Coastal  Historic sites and artefacts 
Primary Subject of Photo
Archaeology 
Landmark (from Tags)
Erskine Bridge 
Subject Location
OSGB36: geotagged! NS 4157 7391 [10m precision]
WGS84: 55:55.9243N 4:32.2569W
Camera Location
OSGB36: geotagged! NS 4156 7391
View Direction
East-southeast (about 112 degrees)
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Crannog 

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