MHG7791 - Crannog - Loch Achilty


A medieval crannog on Loch Achilty.

Type and Period (1)

  • CRANNOG (Norse to Medieval - 1160 AD to 1389 AD) + Sci.Date

Protected Status

  • None recorded

Full Description

NH45NW 3 4304 5637.
There is a tree-covered, artificial island about 80 yards from south shore of Loch Achilty. It measures 54' - 60' by 34' - 42' and stands about 2' above normal water level. It is built of evenly coursed stones, and has a regular batter, foundations measuring 79' by 59'. Timber projects from the NW, SW and east sides.
O Blundell 1913; D MacDonald, A Polson and D Brown 1931

NSA mentions buildings on a supposedly artificial island on Loch Achilty. These are said to be associated with 'MacLea Mor', who remains undated.
C Downie 1845

Name Book ascribes the artificiality and MacLea association to Eilean Mhielidh (MacLea's Island) at NH 43485702 on N side of loch, stating at the same time that this island has every appearance of being natural. It makes no mention of crannog on S side. Name Book 1876

It seems probable that crannog on S side is the true 'MacLea's Island' and should bear remains of buildings.

At NH 43045637 there is a small artificial island composed of stones and largely submerged. The portion above water now measures 10.6 m E-W x 6 transversely, submerged portion approx 21m E-W x 14.5m. It supports a few trees.
There is now no trace of timber supports, a causeway, or buildings on island; there is a possible harbour in N.
Eilean Mhielidh, a pear shaped tree-covered island at NH 43485702, measuring 58m E-W by 23.5m transversely is undoubtedly natural and no trace of buildings could be found on it. Whether or not the crannog at NH 43045634 is associated with MacLea Mor, or whether Eileen Mhielidh is correctly associated with him, was not ascertained.
Visited by OS (R D) 12 July 1965

No Change. (Water level of loch was high and no boat was available at time of investigation.)
Visited by OS (R F) 18 November 1970

A Topographical Survey of Loch Achilty Crannog sat within the wider NOSAS (North of Scotland Archaeological Society) crannogs project in 2022. The aim was to carry out a topographical survey of the island known as Loch Achilty Crannog, to establish not only the extent of the island above water but to record the full extent of the artificial mound rising from the bed of the loch. The artificial mound and the loch bed surrounding it would be examined under water to look for any artifacts associated with it, particularly anything which might provide dating evidence.

At the end of the survey the divers discovered two timbers which were embedded in the stone mound on the north side, one at the very base of the crannog (timber2) and one slightly higher up (timber 1). It appeared that these timbers must have been placed during the construction of the stone mound. After discussion with the NOSAS committee, NAS (Nautical Archaeological Society), a professional archaeologist with experience of crannogs, and the landowner, it was agreed to take samples of the embedded timbers for carbon dating. Subsequent dives were arranged on 11 March and 16 April 2023, the first with an NAS trustee and the second with a diver who had recently joined NOSAS. One timber was sampled on each dive, the timber proving very hard and time consuming to cut. The samples were stored in water from the loch in sealed plastic bags, kept in a fridge until they could be sent for analysis.

Achilty crannog is confirmed as an artificial construction of stone with some embedded timber. It sits in a water depth of 1.25m to 3.10m, on the edge of an underwater shelf which slopes rapidly into deeper water. Timbers embedded in the construction date from the medieval period. Due to the position of timber 2 at the very base of the crannog, it is concluded that the construction of the stone mound cannot be any earlier than the age of this timber. Further examination of photographs showing the underwater timbers which were thought to have been trees fallen into the water has revealed that some of these too may be partially covered by stones so may be older than was first thought. There is no evidence on the surface of any buildings. <1>

Sources/Archives (5)



Grid reference Centred NH 4305 5636 (40m by 40m) (2 map features)
Map sheet NH45NW
Geographical Area ROSS AND CROMARTY
Civil Parish CONTIN

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