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Clava Cairns, Scottish Highlands

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Ruin
The Clava cairn is a type of Bronze Age circular chamber tomb cairn, named after the group of 3 cairns at Balnuaran of Clava, to the east of Inverness in Scotland. There are about 50 cairns of this type in an area round about Inverness. They fall into two sub-types, one typically consisting of a corbelled passage grave with a single burial chamber linked to the entrance by a short passage and covered with a cairn of stones, with the entrances oriented south west towards midwinter sunset. In the other sub-type an annular ring cairn encloses an apparently unroofed area with no formal means of access from the outside. In both sub-types a stone circle surrounds the whole tomb and a kerb often runs around the cairn. The heights of the standing stones vary in height so that the tallest fringe the entrance (oriented south west) and the shortest are directly opposite it.Where Clava-type tombs have still contained burial remains, only one or two bodies appear to have been buried in each, and the lack of access to the second sub-type suggests that there was no intention of re-visiting the dead or communally adding future burials as had been the case with Neolithic cairn tombs.Balnuaran of ClavaAt Balnuaran of Clava itself there is a group of three Bronze Age cairns which lie close together in a line running north east to south west. The tombs at either end are of the passage grave sub-type. The central cairn is of the ring cairn sub-type, and uniquely has stone paths or causeways forming "rays" radiating out from the platform round the kerbs to three of the standing stones. The cairns incorporate cup and ring mark stones, carved before they were built into the structures. The kerb stones are graded in size and selected for colour, so that the stones are larger and redder to the south west, and smaller and whiter to the north east. All these elements seem to have been constructed as one operation and indicate a complex design rather than ad hoc additions.
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Reviews
TripAdvisor
  • These 'Cairns' are said to be burial mounds that have been used and re-used. They are purportedly older than Stonehenge and have the same mathematical alignment as the Great Pyramids. Whatever they ar...  more »
  • These incredible ancient burial grounds are a real wonder. Hidden away down narrow country roads and within spitting distance of the impressive Culloden viaduct, they are well worth a detour if on the...  more »
  • This was an amazing experience. We're history lovers. Seeing something this old that had obvious cultural significance was very amazing and also similarly very eerie. You could almost feel the spirits...  more »
Google
  • Neolithic monuments and burial mounds tend to be sited on high ground, but at Clava the group of open-topped mounds are located in a wooded glade in the valley bottom and, with a number of associated standing stones both around the mounds and in adjacent fields make for a very interesting and slightly 'spooky' visit. There is good parking for even large vehicles.
  • The place is well looked after and worth the visit. However, it could do with some facilities like toilets.
  • Very interesting history to this spot and a little eerie.
  • An incredible experience being surrounded by structures erected thousands of years ago
  • Visit this magical ancient stone-henge like burial site that inspired Diana Gabaldon's standing stones from her Outlander series of books