Clava Cairns
Clava Cairns
An exceptional Bronze Age burial complex, one of the most archaeologically important prehistoric sites in Scotland. Clava is a group of prehistoric burial cairns dating to around 2000 BCE, comprising ring cairns, a kerb cairn, passage graves, and standing stones. Nearby is a ruined chapel of much later date.
Clava was buult in two stages. The first stage began around 2000 BCE when a row of burial cairns was constructed - a form of linear cemetery. Three of these early cairns can still be seen, though there were probably two more. Around 1000 BCE the cemetery was reused, with some new burials inserted in the existing cairns and three new monuments constructed, including the kerb cairn. Another, smaller cemetery can be found at Milton of Clava, just to the west. No trace of any actual burial has been found in any of the Clava cairns, though it seems safe to assume from sinilar monuments that there was at least one body buried in the centre of each cairn.

It seems likely that there was a settlement here before the cemetery was built, and that some of the settlement stones were incorporated into the burial cairns. An archaeological survey in the 1990s noted possible alignment of the Clava monuments with the position of the setting and rising sun.

Clava is in the care of Historic Scotland, and open at any reasonable time. It is amazing to think how many tourists flock to see Culloden Battlefield each year, yet how many make the short journey to see these wonderfully atmospheric remains at Clava?