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Ancient Crafts

The Centre is founded on experimental archaeology and all visitors are invited to test and experience a range of activities following the demonstrations by our Iron Age team.

Wood-turning.  Pole-lathes demonstrations illustrate how the loch-dwellers would have made items used in daily life such as bowls, platters or handles for implements.  This activity is based on the discovery of a small piece of wood known as a 'waster' or off-cut from turned wood. Would it have been turned out on a lathe powered by a bow, or by the more sophisticated foot-operated pole lathe?

Stone-drilling and ‘pecking’.  Several perforated, roughly circular or angular thin stones have been discovered on crannogs. Some may have served as net or fishing weights, weights for drop-spinning wool or other purposes including jewellery. Close examination of the stones revealed that some of the holes had been drilled while others had been chipped. No drilling machine has been discovered so far but our bow-powered example or something similar could have been used for this purpose.

Wool-Spinning. The discovery of a piece of finely-woven cloth during the excavation of Oakbank Crannog indicates that the crannog-dwellers were able to spin and weave fabrics.  A spindle whorl and spindle fragments were discovered that would have been used for drop spinning. Tricky for the inexperienced, watch our guides spin fine threads from sheep’s wool and then give it a try. 

Grain Grinding. Loch Tay's early crannog farmers grew spelt, emmer wheat and barley. They ground their grain by rubbing a small rounded stone against a large flatter stone called a saddle quern. After years of rubbing the larger stone inevitably became worn and dipped, resembling the shape of a horse saddle.

Fire-Making.  The grand finale of the demonstrations is fire-making.  Fiercely competitive among our guides, watch how they magically rub sticks together to produce fire and learn just how important this was to our ancestors.  A burnt-tipped drill that may have been used for this purpose was recovered from a 2,000 year old crannog in the Outer Hebrides.

View the embedded image gallery online at:

Crannog MugIf you do manage to make fire, treat yourself to one of our trophy ‘I Made Fire At The Scottish Crannog Centre’ mugs in the giftshop as a lasting memory of your hard-work and effort.

For details of special events based on our crafts and technologies, please see our Special Events


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