For the purposes of the framework, Inland Waters include freshwater environments such as lochs, major rivers, and canals and navigations. By their very nature, inland waters are an integral part, and an extension of the maritime networks around our coasts and estuaries. In many cases aspects of the cultural fabric of Scotland’s maritime identity emanates from contact between communities located along our coasts to those situated along these inland ‘arteries’. While it could be argued that these ‘arteries’ may be regarded more as terrestrial entities or classified within other areas of the archaeological discipline (such as industrial archaeology in the case of canals), the very nature of the resource, physically and culturally, displays very real synergy with the ‘maritime’ sphere; and in the case of lochs and rivers, the very medium that is under exploitation. Clear examples include the fact that many of the major bodies of inland water and canals are connected with the sea, such as Loch Tay and the Forth and Clyde and the Caledonian Canals; and in the case of the latter, are often incorporated into existing rivers and lochs.
Partially submerged sites comprise organic and inorganic structural remains, artefacts and ecofacts that can range in age from prehistoric to Medieval and later occupation sites. The large number of crannogs, island duns and other occupied islets across Scotland provides a huge potential for research over three millennia. Recent advances in dating techniques, theoretical approaches and fieldwork have demonstrated the importance of wetland archaeological remains.
In addition, these waterways were often developed for maritime purposes; the dock complexes developed at the coastal interfaces and the furnishing of local coastal trade through boat and shipbuilding on the Forth and Clyde Canal are but two examples. With this in mind, it is hoped that by including Inland Waters within this framework, the maritime sphere can begin a process of greater integration with other elements of the archaeological discipline.