The Modern Antiquarian. Stone Circles, Ancient Sites, Neolithic Monuments, Ancient Monuments, Prehistoric Sites, Megalithic MysteriesThe Modern Antiquarian


Clava Cairn


Loved it here... such an unassuming monument, yet nonetheless utterly beguiling, set upon a natural, grassy knoll beneath a canopy of trees, the latter helping to diffuse the trademark Cairngorm downpour. However, unlike that much more (in)famous grassy knoll far to the west, there is no conspiracy here. Just an overwhelming aura of peace, quiet, calm..... which is pretty unexpected, considering the site is within sight of the busy A95 and the parallel A9.

Although there is, sadly, now no sign of a surrounding stone circle, Avielochan is a Clava-style passage grave, retaining a pretty substantial kerb and classic, well defined 'womb' chamber within. Nice. Thanks to the landowner - open gate, no barbed-wire fence - I've rarely encountered a more welcoming ancient site. The visitor, lying within, feels as safe and secure as.... well, a baby in its mother's womb. Fancy that? Almost caught myself sucking my thumb, so I did.

The clava cairn name-checks the nearby loch, a fine stretch of water notable for being a favourite with, appropriately enough, water birds. Holiday homes upon the shoreline allow 'twitchers' to keep watch without leaving their armchairs. As a result parking is (probably) iffy, assuming the 'no unauthorised vehicles' sign at the A95 entrance to the estate is anything to go by. Consequently I would recommend parking in said layby and walking. Upon approaching a footbridge over a railway line (after walking alongside the northern shore line of the loch) look for what appears to be a long barrow within the field to your left, tucked up beside the track. It's not, of course, but none the worse for that. According to Canmore records (A S Henshall 1963; C G Cash 1910) there was 'another smaller and much robbed cairn about 36ft to the SW on an extension of the knoll; about 24ft in diameter with a few low kerbstones projecting through the roof'. Unfortunately I wasn't aware of this addition at the time....

Note that there are the remains of a hillfort upon Tor Beag, a rocky promontory rising beyond the aforementioned roads to the approx north-west.
4th July 2011ce
Edited 4th July 2011ce

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