The Crannog

22 Feb

The Neolithic people of northern Britain used to build artificial islands from coppiced timber in wetland habitats called Crannogs. Estuaries, bogs, lakes and river basins in Scotland and Ireland were exploited by people over thousands of years sourcing protein from fish and shellfish in the waters surrounding their dwellings. They were also able to protect their families and livestock by making it almost impossible for hostile invaders to attack them.


Terry turned up to my carving class at the Graves Discovery Centre, Ecclesall Woods today with an old knackered house sign and asked if he could make a replacement. I happened to have a nice slice of ash burr in my box and I readily agreed. Normally I get novices to carve a few letters before progressing to relief carving of a natural form. Terry proved to be enthusiastic and focused and in the end rendered this Anglicised version of Crannog – the name of his house.

Terry’s openness and willingness to progress had him embellishing the finished piece with a Pyrograph, sanding and oiling his sign and walking away with a massive grin on his (and my) face.

Terry may live in The Crannoch, but in the words of John Donne –

No Man Is An Island

No man is an island,
Entire of itself,
Every man is a piece of the continent,
A part of the main.
If a clod be washed away by the sea,
Europe is the less.
As well as if a promontory were.
As well as if a manor of thy friend’s
Or of thine own were:
Any man’s death diminishes me,
Because I am involved in mankind,
And therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls;
It tolls for thee.

And so it is for us all – we are enabled by opening the way to the island of our selves.

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