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

Eric T. (5 months ago)
Cool to experience this 4000 year old ritual ruin. One of the few in the immediate area that I'm aware of, so a good spot to visit if you don't necessarily have the time to tour the Islands or further north, where these types of findings are more plentiful.
Zachary Gaber (6 months ago)
Clava Cairns deserves to be better known as truly astounding remnants of the regional Bronze Age. I tried to do some research on this site before I went and I found very little information on-line that wasn't about its association with a television show when this is a location that should be among the more famous prehistoric sites in Britain. It is an astounding site with three massive stone cairns, each surrounded by rings of small standing stones. The cairns are very impressive and it is a truly inspiring, mysterious site.
Bradford (9 months ago)
Fantastic cairns site with good detailed plaques. One of the plaques is missing, and I can't see it in the images. Shame about that, but worth a quick visit if you're close and interested in the mysterious neolithic past.
John Lancaster (9 months ago)
A fascinating Bronze age burial ground, set in a clearing in a wooded area. One of groups of cairns around Inverness. Entry is free so I was able to wander around the site, and inside some of the cairns, which, although they have long since lost their roofs, offer a real sense of history and atmosphere. Each cairn has a detailed information board about the cairn, its construction and the part it played in bronze age life. I would certainly recommend a visit. A bit tricky for disabled but it is possible with a wheelchair if you choose your path round carefully.
brian cummiskey (9 months ago)
Beautiful and fascinating place. One of those places with a real sense of the past, like stepping back in time, and so quiet and peaceful. Quite out of the way, but worth seeking out, watch out for the Nairn Viaduct and you'll be very near it. I've always read about places like the Clava Cairns and Stones, so it was great to actually see them. It would have been great to stay until the Sun went down, but small kids dictate your day sometimes, so maybe another visit is on the cards. Enjoy your visit.
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