Crannogs were man-made islands constructed as a refuge against an enemy. They date from the New Stone Age (the Neolithic period or ) but were used for many centuries after as a means of defence or as a place to hide. In the accompanying audio recording, Ken Neil describes evidence for crannogs in the area.

These islands were made by the driving in of long poles into the mud and the piling up of earth and stones until a stable island was formed in the centre of the lake.

Houses of wattle were constructed on the island to provide dwellings of the people and storage for valuable food supplies. A large fence was built around the island settlement to provide added defence.

These island retreats were variously used as temporary dwellings when the people came under attack from a rival clan or as permanent settlements when attacks were almost daily occurrences. Livestock remained on the shore and the settlers travelled across the lake on a daily basis to feed and water these animals.

There is a crannog on Marlacoo Lake, although it is now submerged. It was used by Hugh O'Neill to elude his English enemies in the 1590s. Another crannog is located in Ballynewry Lake.

Photo of Ken Neil in 2003.

Use the audio controller to listen to this talk, given in 2003.