The lost lochs of Scotland: tracking land-use change and its effects on the archaeological record

Michael J. Stratigos

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)


This paper examines how loch drainage in eighteenth and nineteenth century Scotland has shaped the archaeological record, with particular reference to lake dwellings known as ‘crannogs’. The analysis uses the Roy Military Survey of Scotland (1747–1755) as a baseline for charting changes to lacustrine environment through time. The work is unique for its scale which examines all of mainland Scotland, and the results have revealed unrecognized patterns in the timing and intensity of land-use changes that have impacted lacustrine environments. These patterns are linked to the development of archaeological investigation in Scotland demonstrating that the current distribution of crannogs across the country is an artefact of loch drainage and antiquarian investigation and not representative of the past distribution of these critical sites. This paper presents one way in which we can begin to account for these historic changes to land-use and their impact to our understanding of the archaeological record.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)33-51
Number of pages19
JournalJournal of Wetland Archaeology
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 11 Nov 2016

Bibliographical note

I wish to thank a number of people who have supported my endeavours in Scottish archaeology. First, to my parents who have made so much of this work possible. I must thank my partner Claire who has been a constant source of encouragement. Thanks go to my PhD supervisor, Gordon Noble, for his guidance and revisions of endless drafts of this paper, and to Jeff Oliver, Kevin Edwards, Stewart Angus, and two anonymous referees who commented on earlier drafts. And finally I must also thank Fraser Sturt under whose supervision the original idea for this research was developed. Any errors or omissions remain my own.


  • loch drainage
  • crannogs
  • Scotland
  • improvement period
  • Roy Map
  • agricultural practices
  • wetland environment
  • lake dwellings


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