Margaret Anne Cusack
start of chapter | Chapter X

But stone was not the only material used for places of defence or domestic dwellings; the most curious and interesting of ancient Irish habitations is the crannoge, a name whose precise etymology is uncertain, though there is little doubt that it refers in some way to the peculiar nature of the structure.

The crannoges were formed on small islets or shallows of clay or marl in the centre of a lake, which were probably dry in summer, but submerged in winter. These little islands, or mounds, were used as a foundation for this singular habitation. Piles of wood, or heaps of stone and bones driven into or heaped on the soil, formed the support of the crannoge. They were used as places of retreat or concealment, and are usually found near the ruins of such old forts or castles as are in the vicinity of lakes or marshes. Sometimes they are connected with the mainland by a causeway, but usually there is no appearance of any; and a small canoe has been, with but very few exceptions, discovered in or near each crannoge.

Since the investigation of these erections in Ireland, others have been discovered in the Swiss lakes of a similar kind, and containing, or rather formed on, the same extraordinary amount of bones heaped up between the wooden piles.