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

Natalie Ballard (3 months ago)
Was cool to be able to go inside
Vallen Frostweaver (3 months ago)
One of my favourite places for a short visit. It's tremendously quiet all around. Some lovely horses off the beaten path. A short, man made wooden trail to each of the cairns. Little info panels for each. And if you are feeling adventurous, you can crawl into each one for a really cool little room in each. It's so peaceful here.
gary spear (5 months ago)
Currently closed for internal visits (gated entrances to cairns locked) but still possible to walk around externally. Very interesting, some information boards available. Roadside parking.
Anne Smith (8 months ago)
Even from the outside they looked amazing. Unfortunately, due to Covid, we weren't allowed inside so can't post a fair review at this time.
Louis Moore (9 months ago)
Good information boards and walkway is very handy. Sadly wasn't able to go inside as they are locked up for some reason
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