Discover one of Scotland’s most evocative pre-historic sites - The Clava Cairns, a well-preserved cemetery complex of passage graves; ring cairns, kerb cairns and standing stones from the time of the Bronze Age. There are around 50 cairns of this type in an area round about Inverness, Scotland.
Located 8.5 miles from Inverness, follow the brown tourist signs to Clava Cairns which takes you down some minor roads with gorgeous countryside views and a spectacular railway viaduct. The car park is free and has ample space. At the entrance to the cairns you will find an interpretative board that explains a little about the functions of the cairns and the significance of the various stone arrangements.
The cemetery was used in two periods. At around 2000 BC a row of large cairns was built, three of which can still be seen today. A thousand years later the cemetery was reused, and new burials were placed in some of the existing cairns and three smaller monuments were built including a 'kerb cairn'. Traces of a smaller cemetery can also be seen at Milton of Clava, a short distance up the valley to the west. There are two sub-types of cairns, 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. When originally constructed the cairns are likely to have been around 10ft in height.
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.
The cemetery has remained a sacred place in the landscape for millennia and provides many clues to the beliefs of Bronze Age society.
It is a very interesting site and being surrounded by trees in a quiet lane it gives the impression of being magical and mythical. The site indeed has become more popular due to the successful TV series ‘Outlander’.
Location: 7 miles from Inverness
Address: Milton Of Clava, Inverness IV2 5EU
Cost: Free entry and free parking, part of ‘Historic Scotland’
Nearby: Culloden battlefield and Inverness
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