Friday, 15 November 2019

Cairns of Inverness

On this trip I was hosted by Visit Britain and Visit Scotland.

As part of my recent visit to Scotland, I visited the battlefield at Culloden, where the rebellious Jacobites were finally routed by British troops in 1746. (And for the Doctor Who fans out there, where the Doctor first met Jamie McCrimmon, who travelled with him for a while.)

That's a story for another day. What I wasn't expecting was the nearby site I was taken to by my guide afterward, somewhere he thought I'd find interesting.


He was right. Where we stopped was the Balnuaran of Clava, which contains a series of three Bronze Age cairns dating back to 2000 BCE. I'd never heard of these before, but they were intriguing.

The cairns are low grey circle of stones, two of which have passages into their centres. The entrances to these seems to be aligned toward the setting sun in midwinter, and separate standing stones are dotted around each cairn.


It's fascinating stuff. No one's sure what the meaning of the cairns' layout is, or who was buried there, but the layout of circles in the green space is an impressive piece of artistry in itself. As an arrangement, it seems both creative and deeply embedded in the environment.


It was an interesting place to wander through, the most accessible of more than fifty such cairns scattered around Inverness. Without remaining records, we'll never know who precisely were the people who built them there, or why. But we can admire what they left behind.


Learn more about the Clava Cairns at the Historic Environment Scotland website.

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