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

Clava Cairns

Clava Cairn


A pleasant, 1.5 mile walk will take you from the Culloden visitors' centre, down past Clava Lodge and Mains of Clava to this lovely fantastically well-preserved site. If you're going in summer, you'd be advised to visit early in the morning or late in the evening, as this is a 'coachloads of tourists'-type attraction. Two graves, a ring cairn and the 'kerb cairn', plus numerous other stones of all shapes and sizes.

Excavations in 1828, 1857 and 1858 found bones and pottery in the NE cairn, flint flakes in the ring cairn, and bones in the SW cairn. Prof. Thom found that the entrance passages align exactly through two stones in the ring cairn with the midwinter sunset. (Source: 'A Guide to Ancient Sites in Britain, Janet & Colin Bord, 1978).

I arrived there at about 9am at the height of summer (although it was a traditional Scottish summer day - gray, drizzly and very still), and was only joined by a few other quiet people, who soon left me on my own for a good forty minutes. By 11, when I was returning from Miltown of Clava, the place was heaving with bawling children, amateur photographers, loud tourists and disinterested coach drivers.

The site extends on beyond the boundaries of the Historic Scotland 'official fence', in one direction into easily-accessible fields, and in the other, into people's gardens (also easily-accessible, but I wouldn't recommend it!) and beyond to the Miltown site.

Two lovely graffiti'd stone picnic tables are available next to the car park if you need to take a break. This site suffers badly from litter, so if you're feeling charitable, bring a litter bag and pick some up. Historic Scotland don't seem to be doing it (although I did see one of their representatives driving around so they're not entirely neglecting the site).

If you're looking for something else to do, it's worth having a walk down to the rather imposing viaduct.
Posted by taras
4th August 2006ce

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