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The Iron Age


Carved wood from Milton Crannog

Iron Age

A crannog was revealed in 1953 at the NW end of Milton Loch, when the level of that loch was lowered. The crannog appears as a low, circular, stone-covered island 12m in diameter, joined to the shore by a ragged double line of posts protruding from the soft mud. The house itself was floored with a great number of timbers, its roof was supported on several rings of posts, and the outer wall was made by resting split timbers between pairs of uprights. The interior was divided radially into compartments, and subdivided; the hearth of clay and stones was placed not far from the centre.


The timbers forming the floor of the house were extended outside all the way round to form a platform about 1.8m wide, supported from beneath by piles. The causeway led directly from the door of the house to the shore, 30m away to the west. On the opposite side of the house from the causeway, wooden piles and mounds of stones were visible under the surface of the water when the excavation was in progress. These formed a dock about 11m wide by a little less in length, with its entrance in the south-east, facing the open water of the loch. No trace of a solid base of boulders could be detected by probing immediately under the floor of the house, and Piggott concluded that if any had ever existed it must have been separated from the floor of the house by a great layer of timbers.


The objects recovered included a pre-Roman ard head and stilt (now in the National Museums Scotland), which was almost certainly deposited deliberately beneath the house foundations as a votive offering; also part of a rotary quern of a type attributable to the 1st century AD, and an enamelled bronze loop dateable to the 2nd Century AD. It is difficult to find parallels for this loop from Britain, there are fairly comparable examples among the bronze made in Pannonia and nearby territories. As it is known that Pannonian auxiliaries were posted in North Britain, it is reasonable to suppose that it was acquired from a member of the army of occupation. A collection of wooden material including a fish-club, mallet-head and two slotted planks, found by Dumfries sub-aqua club in the harbour of this crannog, is in Dumfries Museum. 


At present the level of Milton Loch is unusually low and it is possible to walk to this crannog. The island measures 14.0m east-west by 16.0m and can still be seen to have been constructed of laid timbers and upright posts. On the east and south other upright posts and large slabs of rock, some of which may represent a harbour, protrude from beneath the water.

Place of Discovery:
Milton Loch
The Stewartry Museum
Digital Number:
RCAHMS site record:
Milton Loch

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