If you fancy dressing your child as prehistoric man and then laughing with/at them then read on.
History shouldn’t be boring for kids as it’s about great stories and exciting tales so it should be right up their street. The Scottish Crannog Centre in Perthshire tells the story of us, of man, giving a glimpse into how we lived a sophisticated and civilised life 2,500 years ago. I can barely remember the days before the internet so life over two thousand years completely escapes me, but what makes this centre excel is that they didn’t just talk about a crannog (or iron age loch dwelling), they only went and bloody built one. Based on the excavations and discoveries by the Scottish Trust for Underwater Archaeology they built a replica which sits on the loch looking absolutely beautiful – a grand design all to itself.
When you arrive at the centre you’re welcomed into an exhibition area. It was admittedly a bit of a holding pen for my enthusiastic offspring but they liked pressing the big buttons that lit up the 2,500 year old wooden staves.
Mr Toddler weirdly balked at the wonderful children’s dressing up boxes, I’m sure your average child would jump at the chance to dress up as prehistoric Perthshire dude. Thankfully the tour guide, himself in period costume, encouraged our young upstart to wear fancy dress, and like most kids he obeyed a complete stranger rather than his own mother, and I had my chance to laugh long and hard at my prehistoric toddler as we wandered up to his new crannog dwelling.
It is simply mind boggling to think that the remains of eighteen crannogs were discovered in Loch Tay alone, and across Scotland these buildings date back as far as the Neolithic period 5000 years ago. Several canoes and logboats have also been discovered revealing that water travel, be it solo sailings, water-taxis or some form of ferry, was the norm.
Inside the crannog was dark and atmospheric. Our guide, a young archaeology graduate, helped build the crannog so he could chat with real knowledge about the process. I’m more interested in the social side of things: looms revealed how material was woven, dried grain hanging from the roof revealed the diet of the inhabitants, you could piece together a pretty normal lifestyle really. Mr Toddler did get restless during the guide’s talk which lasted a good half hour but for us it was worth it.
Back onshore we received demonstrations of woodturning and stone drilling. Yet again Mr Toddler didn’t last through the demonstrations but everyone was very understanding. Attentive Mr Baby meanwhile is now an expert on prehistoric stone drilling. Unsurprisingly, my children liked starting fires- go figure.
We rounded off the morning with an Iron Age coffee at the rustic outdoor cafe before joining the twenty-first century again.
The Lowdown – We drove from Aberdeen to Perthshire, staying at the Moness Resort, near Dunkeld which offers both self-catering and four star hotel accommodation. The Scottish Crannog Centre was a short drive from the hotel, click here for guidance on finding the centre. Supervision of small children is required as you cross the bridge into the crannog but this is kind of obvious. Tots2Travel received free entry to the centre and Mr Toddler is desperately grateful that he and his tiny brother now know how to start fires.
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