What sparks your author imagination?

For CCThis post is by Nancy Jardine

What sparks your author imagination?

Earlier this week, I made a return trip to a highly specialised museum /visitor centre named The Scottish Crannog Centre. This attraction is located at Kenmore, Loch Tay, Perthshire, Scotland. Opened in 1997 to the public, this incredible facility contains a reconstruction of a particular kind of late Iron Age dwelling – a crannog. Crannog evidence has been found in Scotland and Ireland almost exclusively, with only one or two known examples in England.

Dscn5636After various archaeological diving expeditions in Loch Tay, over a period of 20 years (approx 1980-2000) the area was recorded as a site of multiple crannog dwellings. It’s believed that the art of crannog building occurred over a very long period of time, from pre-historic times through to perhaps the 16th or 17th centuries, in some form or another, on the artificial islands which are now to be found in the loch. Some of these artificial islands have evolved as debris from collapsed wooden dwellings after abandonment.

Scottish lochs are peppered with similar artificial islands.


How were archaeologists able to organise the re-creation of a pre-historic dwelling?
Underwater surveys of the area near the village of Fearnan (Loch Tay)  have provided evidence so well preserved that image interpretations of the crannogs were possible. Even using carbon dating, the habitation dates of the Oakbank Crannog at Fearnan isn’t easy to determine, but it’s thought to have been occupied between 400 and 595 BC- Early Iron Age in Scotland.

Dscn5620Some evidence may also show that the site was also occupied during the late first century AD and then abandoned. I liked that bit of knowledge since it ties in with activities I wrote about in After Whorl: Donning Double Cloaks, Book 3 of my Celtic Fervour Series when the advance of 10,000 Ancient Roman legionaries forced Celtic tribespeople to abandon their homes and flee to the highlands.

The way of life in the crannogs can be interpreted very accurately since the wood used in the construction has been well preserved under the water. For some time after the Oakbank Crannog was abandoned, after some 200 years of use, stones systematically covered the largely wooden debris on the loch bed. The covering of stones has helped to preserve what lay beneath for many centuries. Bit by precious bit, the area was excavated under water and surprising results were found.

The support timbers of the roundhouse were easily discernible. From other timber evidence, it was possible to build up a picture of how the flooring was constructed. Three layers of alder tree trunks were used to create the floor, the poles lying parallel on top of each other. On top of that, brackens and ferns were used as insulation and to make it easier to walk on.bed 20140826_131119

Mosses were used for wall insulation and for medicinal purposes as well- as padding for open wounds and possibly for the reasons we use tissue paper today!

Many wooden and stone objects were uncovered under bracken remains which demonstrate daily cooking and storage usage – some of these available to see in the small museum.

Being inside the crannog is an incredible experience- albeit quite a dark one. When I’ve described a crannog village, or a Celtic roundhouse, in my Celtic Fervour Series it was my memories of the Kenmore Crannog which made it possible for me to imagine and then write those scenes.

Re-enveloping myself in the atmosphere of the crannog earlier this week was an indescribable joy- the curator taking a box of my novels and setting them up for sale in the souvenir shop was another. I just hope that the international visitors to the Crannog shop will buy my books and will appreciate my efforts to recreate late Iron Age in northern Britain.

Dirk making fire.
Dirk making fire.


This blog isn’t the place for a hugely long description but if you want more details click the link to my own blog below where there’s even more coverage of this wonderful setting.

Maybe a place like this has encouraged some of your inspiration to be sparked as well?


Nancy’s BLOG



Have a lovely weekend!

Nancy Jardine’s author page with novels available on AMAZON

Celtic Fervour Series


19 thoughts on “What sparks your author imagination?

    1. Thanks, Stephanie. I love going to places like these. Although they are geared to catering for the average tourist, they are still well grounded in historical accuracy- even down to the fact that the reconstructed crannog has no metal used in supports. They only used wooden pegs to fix he structure together. As to the books, my fingers are crossed.


      1. I’m reminded of the solar boat unearthed at the Giza pyramids, which is all bound together with rope and pegs. In both cases, the structures were very well preserved. Even so, the work of reconstructing them is quite impressive.


  1. Nancy,
    What a lovely gift to give yourself. Personally such places fo spark the imagination. Thank you so much for sharing, and best on those book sales.What a perfect place for them.



    1. Doris- thank you. I had been Facebook commenting on their site for a while before I thought of them being a possible outlet. I was delighted when the centre administrator said she’d put them on the shop shelves. 🙂


  2. Reblogged this on L.LEANDER BOOKS and commented:
    There’s a real treat on today’s Writing Wranglers and Warriors. Author Nancy Jardine has written a post not only about what sparks your imagination as an author, but also beautifully describes Crannog Villages in her home country of Scotland. If you haven’t heard of these or Nancy’s books which contain many of these historical facts, you’re in for a new learning experience.


  3. Thank you for this interesting post Nancy. I love history of any kind and the fact that they can recreate something from another time is incredible. I would love to see the crannogs some day (Scotland is on my bucket list). I’m so happy for your books to have such a good home and I’m sure they’ll sell well because they fit the location so well. Good luck and keep us posted!


    1. Thank you for sharing, Linda. Your support is brilliant. Places like the Crannog Centre are such fun to visit and I learn a lot as well.


  4. I’m no photographer, Abbie, especially in dark spaces. My ‘point and go for it’ techniques are sometmes okay and other times a bit iffy. Thanks for commenting!


  5. Fascinating read, Nancy. Someone born in a crannog and who survived past childhood, how long could he or she expect to live? So hope you sell some of your novels in the visitors’ center. You get any of the profits or are you donating them to the living history museum?


    1. I imagine the life expectancy was variable depending on additional factors like attack from animal and human predators. Bone deposits show that some of those early peoples lived to a good age- perhaps into their 70s or 80s but I don’t think that was the norm. Probably more like late 40s. I will get the bulk of the sale on a book, Mike.


    1. Thanks for your support, Cher’ley. I’m fascinated by the crannogs but not sure I’d wnat to live in one during a harsh Scottish damp winter. 😉


  6. Fun post. I wonder why crannogs are exclusive to Scotland and Ireland? Do they give any reason? Sounds like a perfect place to sell your books.

    Our visit to a Wyoming dude ranch was definitely the inspiration for Wyoming Escape. I was working on an other book at the time, but couldn’t get the experience out of my head after we came home. So I gave up and started writing about WY.


    1. Kate- I think having the experiences, like your Dude Ranch one (I ‘d love to try that sometime) can really enhance the descriptions in novels. They don’t know as yet why they only seem to be in Ireland and Scotland. It could just be that ones in England haven’t been preserved and as such not found and identified since settlement of England over the millennia has been greater dn more disturbance of soil and landscapes.


  7. You always provide us such great insight into Scottish ways, both modern and historical, Nancy — so fascinating, especially since my husband’s ancestors came from Scotland and I have a friend in Casper who once lived in Dundee; I have a stronger reference point when I read your posts! Thanks for such an enlightening post once again and all the best to you with your book sales!


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s