Sunday, 5 March 2017

Lochan na Crannaig

A comment on a recent post - here - said, "Loch na Crannaig means The Pulpit Loch," when I had suggested that the translation was the crannog lochan, a crannog being a prehistoric dwelling sited on a more-or-less artificial island in a lake - see reference here.

The lochan in question is seen from the Kilchoan to Achosnich road, about half way between Kilchoan and Sonachan. In this picture, taken from the road, the crannog is clearly visible at the far end, with Beinn na h-Imeilte beyond.

I welcomed the comment. I have little Gaelic, enough only to be able to translate a few of the local place names, and had not realised that crannag means both 'pulpit' and 'crannog'.

Naming a little island in a lochan as a pulpit might, at first glace, seem very unlikely, but this one is said to have been used at the time of the Disruption of 1843, when the new Free Church congregation had nowhere to worship, so the minister used....

....the island as a pulpit while the congregation gathered on the grassy area below the road on the other shore.

That said, the island does have signs of a fairly extensive stone structure being built on it. The site is described here on the Canmore website. "On it are the footings of a crude wall c 0.5m wide, which abuts on to the waters edge forming a sub-rectangular enclosure, c 12.0m NW-SE by c 10.0m transversely. At the N and E corners are two circular structures, c 2.0m in diameter, which are also reduced to the base course." It goes on to suggest that this may be a sheep enclosure or the remains of a crannog.

Angus Henderson, in his 'Ardnamurchan Place Names' of 1915, describes 'Lochan na Crannaige' as  'the loch of the crannog', and adds, 'there is every likelihood that this tarn formed the site of a lake dwelling'.

Bald's map of 1806 (above) shows the lochan as 'Lochan na Crannag', so the name is earlier than the Disruption. So, while there is little doubt that the island was used as a pulpit, it may also, originally, have been a crannog. Thus the little island deserves its name twice over.

I know little of the story of its use by the Free Church after the Disruption. If anyone can tell me more, I would love to hear from them.

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