After 17 years of underwater excavations in the Scottish lochs, in 1997 the Scottish Crannog Centre opened its doors at Loch Tay near Kenmore, in the Central Highlands. It is a good mix of experimental archaeology, visitor attraction, an indoor exhibition room as well as an outdoor reconstruction area and finally an activity area used both by tourists and school children.
Crannogs are centuries-old dwellings in the lochs, constructed above the water, sometimes slowly changed into artificial islands, still recognisable as such. Many are under water at present. Part defensive homestead and part status symbol, they were in use between 3000 BC and the 17th century AD. The award-winning centre consists of an entrance building with a shop, offices, an information centre and an exhibition room. Outside is the impressive Iron Age roundhouse “on stilts” in the water. Visits are by guided tour only. Here you will find almost nothing modern. Back on the land again, there is an activity area where different kinds of lathes are demonstrated, textile is woven, grain is ground to flour and finally making fire is demonstrated. Visitors are welcome to try these activites themselves after the demonstrations. On several occasions, there are themed Sunday afternoon events, often with an archaeological touch: “the Celtic Food Festival” for example. Most of the 25.000 yearly visitors are tourists on a day trip. Besides the whisky distillery at Aberfeldy, the Scottish Crannog Centre is the most important crowd puller to the area.
The exhibition room explains with original finds, videos and large drawings about underwater archaeology, the excavations at the 2,500 year old Oakbank Crannog, the history of the construction of the present crannog and of course about the daily life back then.