The Clava cairn is a type of Bronze Age circular chamber tomb cairn, named after the group of 3 cairns at Balnuaran of Clava, to the east of Inverness. There are about 50 cairns of this type in an area round about Inverness.

At Balnuaran of Clava itself there is a group of three Bronze Age cairns which lie close together in a line running north east to south west. The tombs at either end are of the passage grave sub-type. The central cairn is of the ring cairn sub-type, and uniquely has stone paths or causeways forming 'rays' radiating out from the platform round the kerbs to three of the standing stones. The cairns incorporate cup and ring mark stones, carved before they were built into the structures. The kerb stones are graded in size and selected for colour, so that the stones are larger and redder to the south west, and smaller and whiter to the north east. All these elements seem to have been constructed as one operation and indicate a complex design rather than ad hoc additions.

The ring round the northern Balnuaran of Clava cairn was measured and analysed by Professor Alexander Thom. He found that the ring was slightly egg-shaped with a complex geometry of circles and ellipses which could be set out around a central triangle, using sizes which are close to whole multiples of what he called the Megalithic yard. While the geometry of the shape is generally accepted, the Megalithic Yard is more controversial.

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User Reviews

Andrew Stoneman (16 months ago)
A real gem and a great find! You can feel the history
carrianne harrison (17 months ago)
Very interesting for such a small historic place to visit. I was truly was expecting rubble with no obvious form, however this is not the case. The board offering information is sound and concise- this left us inspired to learn more and be further amazed and in awe at not only the precise construction but the heritage that has been left behind.
Alyx Spanton (17 months ago)
Really interesting place, well kept and definitely worth the visit
Wendy Simpson-Laing (2 years ago)
This place holds a mystery that so many can come up with their own conclusions. We thought of the traveling man symbol with how the circles and outer rocks were laid out. Also felt like it could have had either more or it was never finished. So many ideas and theories to play with.
Erin Nelson (2 years ago)
Such a cool spot! It offers free, full access to a 4,000 year old pagan burial site. Even in the rain it was a favorite stop.
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