I come from Aberdeen, a coastal city in the North East of Scotland. Until recently Aberdeen was known for three things: Annie Lennox, the deep fried Mars Bar and Oil. It was impossible to move around the city without being able to taste the oil in the air it was in the shining bonnets of new Audis, driven straight from the lots, the crisp uniforms of the private school students, the shopping centres which sprawled across the city. In recent years it is the fall in oil prices which has shaped our city. It is in the dilapidated shop fronts, the reduced building projects, the increase in food banks. In all this, through uptake and decline, there has been but one constant: the North Sea.
It is an almost universally acknowledged truth that the North Sea is too cold to swim in. Paddling is perhaps the best anyone could ever hope for, the line blurs between hero and fool if one is to attempt anything further. Yet the Scottish water was not always so uninhabitable.
Crannog favourite Scottisch heritage
In fact, it is the canny nature of early Scots which leads to my favourite example of maritime cultural heritage. The humble Crannog. On first glance, the word conjures images of some horrific medieval beast, instead this is an artificial island with a house like structure atop it, found from Loch Tay to the Outer Hebrides. Some 350 examples are known of in Scotland, with the earliest dating to the Early Iron Age. It is understandable that the Crannog varies in both design and material due to its location. Their builders were resourceful, not foolish why travel to collect wood when you are meters away from a rocky outcrop? The majority of Crannogs were excavated in the early 1900s, and as was standard for the time, excavation was poor, with only artefacts of clear economic value being saved. Crannogs are still being found to this day, though excavated with far more care and diligence.
Crannogs represent the resourceful nature of early Scots. I am confident that we can show such resourcefulness again in response to our current Oil crisis.