Lake Settlement Project


Why study lakes?

The Lake Settlement Project was established, in 2002, to learn more about the many types of settlement that are found in or near lakes in Ireland. These include Mesolithic occupation sites, Bronze Age wooden platforms, post-alignments and settlements, Iron Age structures and Early Medieval crannógs in lakes.

Lake settlements are typically waterlogged, and this creates anaerobic conditions which leads to the preservation of organic material such as wood, leather and seeds which are not preserved in other environments. This means we can learn a lot about the settlement organisation, agriculture, industry and crafts of the people who made or used these material in the past.

All the traditional sources of data were used in this research; published literature, museum archives, archaeological excavation results, artefactual and palaeoenvironmental studies. It also incorporated what were then new and innovative approaches such as aerial photography, underwater remote sensing techniques and underwater survey.


Finds from the Derragh excavation including hazelnuts
Finds from the Derragh excavation including hazelnuts

Project scoping study

The project followed a scoping study conducted by Aidan O’Sullivan, published in 1998, which examined the history of the studies of Lake Settlement in Ireland. It also described the archaeological evidence for lakeshore habitations of Mesolithic and Neolithic people and the extensive evidence for Bronze Age lake settlements. It also detailed similar evidence for all stage of the medieval period. The findings of this study led to the creation of the Lake Settlement Project and the integrated approach it adapted.