Clava Cairns, Inverness, Scotland.

This evening, I am posting information on one of the most important prehistoric sites in the north of mainland Scotland. This is Balnuaran of Clava or ‘Clava Cairns’ as commonly known.

Video clip of Clava Cairns site.

The site is open throughout the year and is conveniently close to Culloden Battlefield, about six miles east of Inverness.

Clava is a prehistoric cemetery which dates from around 2000 BC albeit on a site previously used by prehistoric peoples for domestic purposes. The cemetery site experienced two stages of use:

  1. Around 2000 BC a row of up to five burial cairns were erected of which three remain.
  2. Around 1000 BC the site was re-used and the small Kerb Cairn built.

North-Eastern Cairn

A passage grave intended for  a single body, presumably of a high status person. The passage is aligned to the mid-winter solstice. Originally completely closed.The Cairn is surrounded by a graded stone circle, which is actually an ellipse.

North-Eastern Cairn, Clava

Cup marked stone embedded in foundations of N.E. tomb

Central Cairn

This is a Ring Cairn, not a passage grave, which was positioned so as not to obstruct the view between the N.E. and S.W. cairns.It was never roofed whilst the now empty interior was originally filled with rubble.

Ring Cairn, Clava, Scotland

South-Western Cairn

Also aligned to mid-winter sun. When first constructed was substantially higher and completely roofed.

South-Western Cairn, Clava.


Situated 50 feet to east of Ring-Cairn. Maximum 12 feet in internal diameter.


Overall, an excellent and easily accessible site for visitors wishing to connect with the prehistoric period.