Loch nan Deala
The University of Reading and Islay Heritage are currently carrying out an archaeological investigation of the crannog at Loch nan Deala.
Investigation of the crannog at Loch nan Deala, partially drained loch near Keills, evolved from our Islay and Jura Primary Schools Archaeology Project. The site was one of the four sites across the island at which the school children and teachers worked with Islay Heritage archaeologists in 2017 to survey the monuments and hone their archaeological skills. It is an intriguing site about which very little is known despite it being surveyed before by the Royal Commission for Ancient and Historical Monuments in Scotland (RCAHMS) in the 1970s and archaeologists Mark W. Holley in the 1990s. There are several crannogs or islet settlements on Islay’s lochs, but Loch nan Deala is by far the most accessible, which is why it provides an excellent opportunity to learn more about this class of monument through archaeological work and the community involvement.
With the help of a grant from the Society of Antiquaries of Scotland we returned to the crannog in autumn 2019 with the aim to find out answers to questions such as: When was it built? How long was it occupied for? What kind of structures were built on it and for what purpose? Was the islet lived on or was it used for some kind of ritual purpose? What did the surrounding environment look like during the occupation of the crannog? How typical is Loch nan Deala crannog in comparison to crannogs elsewhere in the Hebrides, mainland Scotland and Ireland and what can the study of these monuments tell us about cultural contacts between these areas? The October 2019 dig was only the start of what we hope will continue as a longer project. To learn about the story so far you can read the report