4.2.4 The Scottish Wetland Archaeology Programme and other current research

In 2006, following the hosting in Edinburgh of the annual WARP conference, members of SWAP were asked by Historic Scotland to produce a coherent research agenda, within which a programme of field survey and excavation could be carried out (Cavers 2006a). SWAP undertook a systematic assessment of the wetland archaeological resource, and identified Caithness, Skye, Argyll and Galloway as high potential areas for further research. Concurrent with the geographical analysis, SWAP identified a series of research themes to be pursued as a means of approaching the most pressing questions in Scottish wetland research. These focus on the investigation of chronological patterns, the relationship of dating samples to phases of construction and occupation and the investigation of a range of Iron Age crannogs and analysis of their form, function and meaning (see Cavers 2006b:17-8).

Following on from the formation of the SWAP research agenda, several key field projects have been undertaken to explore crannogs in the target study areas. Underwater excavation has been undertaken at the multi-period crannog at Ederline boathouse in Loch Awe (Cavers and Henderson 2005), and at Dorman’s Island in Whitefield Loch, Galloway. A larger project has aimed to investigate an unusual promontory site in Cults Loch, near Stranraer, in conjunction with an exploration of the associated extensive cropmark record. These projects are currently at various stages of fieldwork and post-excavation.

Several projects are proceeding outside the direct coordination of SWAP, but nonetheless contribute directly to many of the issues identified by the SWAP research agenda. A comprehensive programme of radiocarbon dating and survey in Perthshire is under way under the direction of Nick Dixon (Dixon et al. 2007; Cook et al. 2010), while systematic survey of the Loch Awe crannogs using sector scanning sonar by Holley may well provide a new level of insight into the extent of structures associated with crannogs, and has already produced very promising results. It is hoped that these initiatives can be capitalised upon, and methodological advances in surveying and prospection techniques continued.

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