Grey Cairns of Camster

Highland, United Kingdom

The Grey Cairns of Camster are two large Neolithic chambered cairns in the Highland region of Scotland. They are among the oldest buildings in Scotland, dating to about 5,000 years ago. The cairns demonstrate the complexity of Neolithic architecture, with central burial chambers accessed through narrow passages from the outside. They were excavated and restored by Historic Scotland in the late 20th century and are open to the public.

The cairns, which are considered to be examples of the Orkney-Cromarty type of chambered cairn, were constructed in the third or fourth millennium BC in a desolate stretch of boggy peat-covered moorland in the Flow Country of Caithness. They consist of two structures standing 180 m apart, known as Camster Round and Camster Long. A third cairn, located about 120 metres away from Camster Round, is not considered to be part of the grouping. Although the surrounding countryside is now inhospitable and sparsely inhabited, during the Stone Age it was fertile farming land and only became covered in peat during the Bronze Age.

Camster Long is a 60 m long cairn with 'horns' at each end. The two chambers appear to have originally been constructed within separate round cairns, which were only later incorporated into a single long cairn for unknown reasons.

Camster Round is, as the name suggests, a circular cairn; it measures 18 metres in diameter by 3.7 metres high. It is virtually intact with a high vaulted chamber at its centre, accessed from a passage 6 metres long and 0.8 metres high at the east-south-east side of the cairn. The passage appears to have been deliberately put out of use by blocking it up with stones piled up to the height of its roof.

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User Reviews

Antonio Baltic (6 months ago)
No tourists and very remote. Worth a little detour.
frank galloway (6 months ago)
They are closed
Isla Phillips (6 months ago)
Hadn't visited here since I was a kid and now visited on our honeymoon. They didn't disappoint. We really enjoyed it and so lucky you can go into them. The walk ways are great too. Shame some people leave the wee gates open and let the local sheep in.
Jimbly Bimbly (7 months ago)
Very cool site. You can go inside the cairns which is definitely an experience. The passageways are narrow so can feel a bit claustrophobic, best to wear waterproofs as the ground is a bit wet for crawling in. If you are comfortable in small spaces would definitely recommend going in.
The80smusicrocks (8 months ago)
5000 years old, incredible that places like this existed that long ago. Well worth a visit
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