Visit the Clava Cairns

The Clava Cairns is an ancient burial ground with three Bronze Age cairns, known in full as the “Prehistoric Burial Cairns of the Balnuaran of Clava”. This is an extremely well-preserved site for its age, dating back 4000 years.

The Clava Cairns are free to visit and open all year round. Perhaps the best time to see them is a sunset during the midwinter, when the stones align perfectly with the setting sun.


Clava Cairns History

Ancient Scottish burial ground, built around 2000 BC

Cairns and Standing Stones

The three large burial cairns, which survive today, were built around 2000 BC. They were built on an existing settlement, where evidence of farming has been found. Positioned in a row, there may have been more than three of them at the time.

A ring of standing stones surrounds each one, some of which are now broken or moved.

Aligned with the setting sun

The central cairn is called a Ring Cairn, an enclosed ring-shaped stone structure with an inner chamber. The two outer cairns are known as Passage Graves. So-called because they include entrance passages, aligned to the south west, where the midwinter sun sets. A small number of bodies would have been laid in each chamber, probably of significant figures and leaders.

Around a thousand years later, the burial site was reused and three smaller monuments were added to it. Including a smaller ring of kerb stones near the central cairn.


Travel through time

The location which inspired Outlander's “Craigh na Dun”

The Outlander Effect

Interest in the site has grown significantly since the release of the romantic time-travel books and TV series, Outlander. This ancient place has similarities with the fictional “Craigh na Dun” site from the series, where main character Claire is sent back in time by the magic of the standing stones. There are now more visitors than ever to the Clava Cairns. Many Outlander fans believe writer Diana Gabaldon took inspiration from here and they like to get a selfie posing with the “Outlander split stone”, a standing stone split in two, said to have mystical qualities.

See the Outlander video below...



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