This evening, I am focusing on one of Scotland’s most visited prehistoric sites, namely the Clava Cairns or Balnuaran of Clava, which are situated close to Culloden Battlefield and Inverness.

Clava Cairns Prehistoric Site

Clava Cairns Prehistoric Site, Scotland

This site dates back to the Bronze Age. There may have been two stages of construction: 2000 BC and 1000 BC. When viewing the images and this video clip bear in mind that this huge project was probably undertaken using only human muscle power and stone tools. Clearly the community of the day operated with a sophisticated social structure to cover all the stages of planning and construction. Interestingly, the last stage of construction coincided with the end of stone circle building in Britain ( 1000 BC), a development which may have been influenced by climate change.

Burial Chamber, Clava Cairns

Burial Chamber, Clava Cairns, Scotland

Along a NW-SW alignment are two passage-tombs in between which is positioned a ring-cairn. To the east of the ring-cairn is a small kerb-circle. The N.E.passage tomb shown immediately above is surrounded by a stone circle containing 12 stones (of which 11 survive) which are graded in height. The passage entry is aligned to the mid winter sunset.

This image (below) shows the central ring-cairn which was restored around 1881.

Burial Cairn, Clava

Burial Cairn, Clava Cairns, Scotland

This is the south-western passage tomb which is about 16m across. Like its sister tomb above, this this tomb was also surrounded by a graded ring of 12 stones.

Passage Tomb at Clava

Passage Tomb at Clava, Scotland

When visiting this and many other prehistoric sites in Britain, I am prompted to reflect on the mindset of our ancestors and what motivated them to invest so much time and energy in building these huge constructions at a time when most of their daily existence would have been spent on pure survival. 

Elsewhere today, I have designed a three day tour of Highlands itinerary and responded to numerous other tour enquiries for later this year. Nice to be busy!

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