Puzzled archaeologists prove Scotland’s 600 mysterious man-made islands were built 5,300 years ago – but still don’t know why


MYSTERIOUS man-made islands in Scotland are thousands of years older than we thought.

The stone structures found in lochs across the country are up to 30 metres wide and were likely built by ancient Britons as sacred spots for meals and funerals.

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Crannogs are found in lochs across Scotland. New research shows some of them are up to 5,500 years old (stock)[/caption]

Hundreds of the monuments, known as crannogs, have been found so far, and for decades experts presumed they were constructed in the Iron Age, around 800 BC.

But a new study reveals at least some of the islets are far older, dating back to around 3,700 BC.

This makes the crannogs older than Stonehenge, which Neolithic men began building in Wiltshire 700 years later.

Scientists reckon the islets were used by locals for thousands of years before they were abandoned a few centuries ago.

Scientists found Neolithic pots at crannogs in lochs around the Outer Hebrides. They show some crannogs are up to 5,500 years old

“They would have required a huge investment of labour to build and probably remained significant places for a long time,” said Dr Duncan Garrow from the University of Reading.

“Such islets may well have represented substantial symbols for, and of, the communities that constructed them.

“These islets could also have been perceived as special places, their watery surroundings creating separation from everyday life.”

Crannogs are frequently built out of stone and timber and more than 600 survive today.

They peek just above the water in lochs, particularly along the Scotland’s west coast and on the islands of the Outer Hebrides, off the northwest coast of the mainland.

Dr Garrow teamed up with former Navy diver Chris Murray for the research.

In 2012, Murray found a treasure trove of well-preserved Neolithic pottery while diving at a crannog in the Outer Hebrides.

Locations of known crannogs in Scotland

Scotland's crannogs – the facts

Here's everything you need to know…

  • Around 600 ancient crannogs have been found in lochs across Scotland
  • They’re largely made of stone and timber and were constructed by prehistoric Britons
  • It’s believed the crannogs were sacred to the people of ancient Scotland
  • They likely used them for ritual feasts, funerals and more
  • Archaeologists previously thought the islets were built in the Iron Age, around 800 BC
  • Recent research suggests they’re in fact much older, with some dating back to 3,700 BC

After the find, he teamed up with Dr Garrow and found hundreds of Neolithic pots around four other crannogs in the region.

Radiocarbon dating suggests items were intentionally placed around the structures by ancient Britons about 5,500 years ago.

It remains unclear what the sites were used for, but experts think they were special places for social gatherings, ritual feasts or funeral sites.

The study was published in the journal Antiquity.

In other news, scientists in Denmark recently sparked a mystery when they uncovered perfectly preserved 1,700-year-old skulls buried in ponds.

Here are six of the most gruesome bog bodies found in Europe.

The first beer ever brewed in the UK was unearthed in January.

What do you think the crannogs were built for? Let us know in the comments!

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