Raising the roof on the mists of time

August 9, 1996

A Bronze Age timber house on stilts is being reconstructed for the first time in nearly 2,000 years, in a loch.

Nicholas Dixon, research fellow in archaeology at Edinburgh University, and his team are building the roundhouse, called a crannog, in Loch Tay, Perthshire.

The team from the Scottish Trust for Underwater Archaeology is working to plans based on their underwater excavations of one of the 18 ancient crannogs known to be preserved in the loch. The roof reaches a height of 13 metres above the loch's surface, and its construction has been an arduous task.

"The easiest job was erecting the main beams, which could be done by one or two of us," Dr Dixon said. "But bending several hundred metres of thick hazel rods to fit across the poles was another story. We have already used nearly two miles of rope in lashing together the framework."

The research team is thatching the roof, using five tonnes of reeds from the River Tay, donated by a local company. Barrie Anderson, trust projects director, welcomed the gift, worth several thousand pounds, and the support of other bodies, including Scottish Enterprise Tayside. "We hope it will encourage other firms to back the project, which is being carried out entirely with students and volunteers."

The thatching is expected to be completed next week, and visitors will be able to get a preview of the crannog and a small on-shore exhibition before the official opening next year.

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