Note:  Do not rely on this information. It is very old.

Lake Dwellings

Lake-Dwellings, a collective name for houses, either isolated or in groups, built on some kind of substructure above the surface of the water, usually of inland lakes. Probably the motive which led to early man choosing such situations for his villages was the sense of security derived from being thus cut off from attack. The first known mention of such dwellings is by Herodotus; but dwellings of this kind go back to even earlier times than those described by the Father of History. In the winter of 1853-54 the attention of anthropologists was directed to the dwellings of the Swiss lakes owing to the water falling below the usual level, and a little later to those of Italy. Dr. Keller considers it "extremely probable that the Swiss lake-dwellings reach back from 1,000 to 2,000 years before our era." From relics found they appear to have been inhabited during the Stone, Bronze, and Iron Ages, and the finds range from stone implements to a coin of the Emperor Claudian. There were three styles of building used in the platforms on which dwellings were erected. (1) Piles were driven into the bottom of the lake, and stones dropped between them to render the structure firm. (2) In some cases the piles were mortised into the trunk of a tree, and then lowered into position. This was chiefly done on sandy bottoms, where the piles if driven would have little hold. (3) The stems and branches of small trees and brushwood were thrown in till a sufficient foundation was laid on which to erect the platform. The last was substantially the plan followed in the erection of the crannogs of Britain and Ireland, though sometimes naturally islands were utilised, and the whole surrounded by a palisade. In 1856 traces of a lake-dwelling were found at Wretham in Norfolk. Ten years later, some remains possibly of pile-building, with bones, Samian pottery and Roman coins were discovered near London Wall and in Southwark. In 1887 vestiges of such dwellings were met with in Baston Mere, near Bury St. Edmunds, and also on an island supported by piles in Llangorse Lake, Brecknockshire. In 1880 there was a find at Ulrome in Yorkshire, and some three or four years afterwards evidences of a pile-dwelling were found near Preston, in Lancashire. One of the most important finds in Britain was that in 1892, when, about a mile north of Glastonbury, beams and piles closely resembling those of the Scottish and Irish crannogs were discovered. These extend over five acres, and show traces of from 60 to 70 separate dwellings or work-places. There have been found bronze rings, fibulas, a brooch, a few iron objects much decayed, a quantity of broken pottery, remains of a quern, some stone implements, and flakes and cores of flint. Most of the articles are late Celtic. The age of lake-dwellings is by no means past. They are to be met with at the present day in Africa, New Guinea, and the Malay Archipelago.