An Crannóg - Mehigan's Island
Loch Allua is a small lake but here lies an archaeological curiosity - a little island encampment dating to medieval times or before, it was reached via a submerged causeway, known only to its defenders.
A crannóg is a type of ancient lake dwelling, built on an artificial island, found throughout Ireland and Scotland and dating mainly from the Early Christian Period, but may be up to 5,000 years old. Many crannóg's were built out in the water as defensive homesteads and represented symbols of power and wealth, and some may have been used well into the times of recorded history. It is not unusual to find evidence of jewellery being made on these islands.
As you pass along the road from Inchigeela towards Ballingeary, after about 5 kilometers or so on your left hand side, keep a look out for (as it's easy to miss) a tiny island situated about 50m. offshore. (It looks like a submerged tree). This is a crannóg and is known locally as Oilean Ui Mhaothagain (Mehigan's Island) named either from a local chieftain or from meathain, the Irish for twigs and saplings.
In its original state it probably carried a wooden building supported clear of the water on stakes. A raised walkway may have joined it to the shore.
One summer, of unusually low water levels, I explored the site. It was a tangle of low trees growing among stony ground. Visible part way around were the stumps of staves, preserved in the acidic peaty water now home to the lakes populous fish the Pike.
- Lee Valley