Doonamona Wetland (Crannog)

Close to the ruins of Doonamona castle, the trail passed through a marshy low-lying area consisting of poor draining natural wetland. A large amount of this wetland is covered by rushes, however in the midst of this area lies a possible crannog, which is now overgrown with bushes. Although not ideal for farming purposes, this wetland now supports a variety of different species of migrating birds (Michigan State University, 2009).

What is a crannog?

Crannogs are basically artificial islands built in lakes. Dating from prehistoric times, they represent some of Ireland’s oldest dwelling places. While a couple of examples are found in Wales and in Scandinavia, most are concentrated in Ireland and Scotland. The greatest concentration of crannogs however is in Ireland (, n.d.). What makes them different from other constructions—like the pile constructions of earlier times in Switzerland—is their distinctive substructures of logs and brushwood built up from the bottom. Crannogs seem to have reached their greatest development in early historic times and are among the latest prehistoric strongholds (Tikkanen, n.d.).

What were crannogs used for?

Most of the time crannogs were used for dwellings, however archaeologists have found that some crannogs were used for fishing or for hunting stations. Sometimes also, these dwellings were used as special places for metal work. It is even possible that some crannogs were used for ritual deposition of sacred objects or weapons (, n.d.).

When did crannogs come about?

Many crannogs show use right through the ages from the Mesolithic Age going through the Neolithic Age, Bronze Age, and Iron Age. Crannogs were used right into the European Middle Ages. Archaeologists have artifacts and remains from all these ages, with most of them coming from the Middle Ages (, n.d.).

Why would people build islands in a lake to live on?

There appears to be no clear-cut answer to this question. One theory holds that because Ireland was so densely wooded in the past, lakes were the only places where people could see the sky—apart from upland areas. Another theory is that lakes had strong religious and sacred significance in times gone by. And possibly the most reasonable theory is that being completely surrounded by water in a lake, makes your defenses stronger, as attackers could only approach via the pathway to the crannog. (, n.d.).

Where does the name ‘crannog’ come from?

The name crannog is an Irish Gaelic word, which can first be found in documents dating from the 13th Century. The first part of the word “Crann” means ‘tree,’ and the second part of the word “Og,” means ‘miniature’ or ‘young.’ It is suggested that there could be two possible interpretations of what the word “crannog” means. The first could refer to the construction methods involved in making a crannog—as it involved piling up tree trunks. The second interpretation of the meaning of the word “crannog” could point to the idea of “young trees.” After these crannogs were abandoned, they became overgrown and they started to be covered in young trees (, n.d.).


  1. (n.d.) The Crannog—Shining Light on the Ancient Mystery. Available at: Accessed 18th of January, 2024.

  2. Michigan State University, Study Abroad Programme. (2009). Doonamona Wetland (Crannog). Internal Report: Folder 2, Croagh Patrick Heritage Trail—Clogher Environmental Group Ltd. Unpublished.

  3. Tikkanen, A. (n.d.) Crannog (Britannica) Available at: Accessed 16th of January, 2024.