Trip Planner:   Europe  /  UK  /  Scotland  /  Scottish Highlands  /  Historic Sites  /  Clava Cairns

Clava Cairns, Scottish Highlands

4.6
#11 of 39 in Historic Sites in Scottish Highlands
Ruin Historic Site
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.
Put Clava Cairns at the forefront of your travel plans using our Culloden Moor family vacation planner.
Source
Create an itinerary including Clava Cairns

(Culloden Moor is the nearest city to Clava Cairns)

map

Plans in Scottish Highlands by other users

14 days in Ireland & Scotland BY A USER FROM UNITED STATES August, outdoors, popular & hidden gems PREFERENCES: August, outdoors ATTRACTION STYLE: Popular & hidden gems PACE: Medium 21 days in United Kingdom BY A USER FROM BRAZIL December, culture, outdoors, relaxing, beaches, historic sites, museums, shopping, popular PREFERENCES: December, culture, outdoors, relaxing, beaches, historic sites, museums, shopping ATTRACTION STYLE: Popular PACE: Medium 34 days in Europe BY A USER FROM AUSTRALIA April, culture, outdoors, beaches, historic sites, popular PREFERENCES: April, culture, outdoors, beaches, historic sites ATTRACTION STYLE: Popular PACE: Medium 9 days in Scotland BY A USER FROM MEXICO September, popular PREFERENCES: September ATTRACTION STYLE: Popular PACE: Medium 11 days in Scotland BY A USER FROM UNITED STATES September, culture, outdoors, historic sites, museums, popular PREFERENCES: September, culture, outdoors, historic sites, museums ATTRACTION STYLE: Popular PACE: Medium 7 days in Scotland BY A USER FROM UNITED KINGDOM September, teens, kids, culture, outdoors, relaxing, beaches, historic sites, museums, shopping, fast-paced, popular & hidden gems PREFERENCES: September, teens, kids, culture, outdoors, relaxing, beaches, historic sites, museums, shopping ATTRACTION STYLE: Popular & hidden gems PACE: Fast-paced 9 days in Scotland BY A USER FROM MEXICO August, culture, historic sites, museums, popular PREFERENCES: August, culture, historic sites, museums ATTRACTION STYLE: Popular PACE: Medium 3 days in Inverness BY A USER FROM UNITED KINGDOM September, popular PREFERENCES: September ATTRACTION STYLE: Popular PACE: Medium 22 days in United Kingdom & Dublin BY A USER FROM ARGENTINA March, popular PREFERENCES: March ATTRACTION STYLE: Popular PACE: Medium 16 days in Scotland BY A USER FROM UNITED STATES June, popular PREFERENCES: June ATTRACTION STYLE: Popular PACE: Medium 29 days in Inverness BY A USER FROM UNITED KINGDOM September, beaches, historic sites, slow & easy, hidden gems PREFERENCES: September, beaches, historic sites ATTRACTION STYLE: Hidden gems PACE: Slow & easy 30 days in Europe BY A USER FROM CANADA April, culture, outdoors, relaxing, beaches, historic sites, museums, slow & easy, popular & hidden gems PREFERENCES: April, culture, outdoors, relaxing, beaches, historic sites, museums ATTRACTION STYLE: Popular & hidden gems PACE: Slow & easy
View more plans

Plan your trip to Scottish Highlands

  • Get a personalized plan

    A complete day-by-day itinerary
    based on your preferences
  • Customize it

    Refine your plan. We'll find the
    best routes and schedules
  • Book it

    Choose from the best hotels
    and activities. Up to 50% off
  • Manage it

    Everything in one place.
    Everyone on the same page.

Where to stay in Culloden Moor

Browse hundreds of hotels and read guest reviews on the world's leading online travel agency website.
CHECK IN - CHECK OUT
TripAdvisor
Millions of travel reviews
on TripAdvisor
Reviews
TripAdvisor Traveler Rating
309 reviews
Google
4.6
  • This is an impressive site, especially if you haven't been to Orkney. There are three grave sites that are 4,000 years old. But my spouse and I just returned from Orkney where the grave sites were 5,0...  more »
  • There are 3 Bronze Age circular chamber tomb cairns named collectively as the "Balnuaran of Clava" which are essentially man made stone piled structures. You should note some man made groove works in ...  more »
  • Just a short drive from the Culloden Battlefield, this is a small site, but well worth a visit to see these ancient standing stones and burial mounds. Though I have never watched the series, Outlander...  more »
Google
  • Amazing to see something that old. Only one sign, would be great to have a few smaller signs at the tombs explaining a bit more. Beautiful surrounding countryside
  • Super cool burial Cairns in great condition. They are massive and give such a sense of awe. There is only one sign there so worth reading up on them before you go.
  • A place steeped In history. Clava cairns was the inspiration behind Craigh nah dun in outlander. The stones date back to bronze age.
  • A mystical, inspiring place. Definitely worth a visit
  • Works best when you have the historical background to know what you're looking for. There isn't a lot of information at the local site.