History, tourist information, and nearby accommodation
The two long cairns are known to archaeologists are Giants' Graves North and Giants' Graves South. They were built sometime between 4500-5500 BCE, in a style similar to other burials in that period found around the Firth of Clyde.
Giants' Graves North is at grid reference NS0430024670. It consists of a much-altered cairn on a north-south axis, about 113 feet long, 70 feet wide at the north end, tapering to 46 feet at 90 feet. The final 23 feet appear to be a later addition.
The cairn is up to 5 feet high on the west side but falling to between 2-3 feet on the remainder of the cairn. The forecourt area is roughly 41 feet across and 20 feet deep. The forecourt area is defined by a pair of large standing stones at each horn. The northeast stone still stands, but the northwest one has fallen.
The burial chamber itself is 22 feet long and from 2'7" to 5' wide. When the chamber was excavated in 1902 it was found to have already been opened. A layer of charcoal dust lay on the chamber floor.
The excavation also found sherds of pottery, flint knives, arrowheads, and fragments of cremated bone.
The partial remains of a second chamber were found 33 feet south of the main chamber. This south chamber is much smaller, at 7'6" long.
Giants' Graves South lies 60 feet to the south at NS0431024636 and is at right angles to the northern cairn, on a WNW-ESE axis. It is 36 feet at the west end and tapers for 42 feet to a rounded east end. It is roughly 3-4 feet high along its entire length. A single upright stone stands at the edge of the cairn, seemingly to revet (reinforce) the kerb.
The burial chamber is at the west end of the cairn. The chamber is 14 feet long and 4'7" wide. When it was excavated in 1902, nothing was found, but a later investigation unearthed pottery sherds and fragments of cremated bone.
Start at the Ashdale Bridge parking area (A841) on the southern end of Whiting Bay. Take the footpath signed to Glenashdale Falls, and you will see a path forking off to the left after 500 metres. Just follow the fairly steep path until you reach the cairns.
Alternatively, carry on until you reach the Falls, which are well worth seeing, and take the signposted trail from the viewing platform that leads back at an angle across the hillside to the Giants' Graves. Then simply follow the steep footpath to make a circular route. I recommend this second option, as the going is easier and it really is worth seeing the waterfalls.
If you opt for the first path, just be aware that it is a bit of a stiff climb up to the cairns. There are well over 250 steps cut into the hillside, and the going will make you huff and puff a bit. However, the woodland is wonderful, and the cairns seem to be a million miles from anywhere.
Since we first visited the Giants' Graves, the hillside has been cleared of trees, so that now you can get wonderful views down on Whiting Bay. Rather than being hemmed in by woodland, the cairns are now completely exposed.
Most photos are available for licensing, please contact Britain Express image library.
About Giants' Graves
Address: Glenashdale, Whiting Bay, Isle of Arran, Arran, Ayrshire, Scotland
Attraction Type: Prehistoric Site
Location: Take the trail signposted to Glenashdale Falls from the parking area at Ashdale Bridge, on the southern edge of Whiting Bay. The trail to the cairns forks left after 500 metres.
Photo Credit: David Ross and Britain Express
Opening Details: Open access site, usually accessible at any reasonable time
We've 'tagged' this attraction information to help you find related historic attractions and learn more about major time periods mentioned.
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NEARBY HISTORIC ATTRACTIONS
Heritage Rated from 1- 5 (low-exceptional) on historic interest
Glenashdale Falls - 0.9 miles (Countryside)
Eas Mor Falls - 2 miles (Countryside)
Kildonan Castle, Arran - 2.4 miles (Castle)
Carn Ban - 3.4 miles (Prehistoric Site)
Torrylin Cairn - 5.9 miles (Prehistoric Site)
Torr a'Chaisteal Dun - 7.6 miles (Prehistoric Site)
Arran Heritage Museum - 7.7 miles (Museum)
Brodick Castle - 8.3 miles (Historic House)
Nearest Holiday Cottages to Giants' Graves:
Nearby accommodation is calculated 'as the crow flies' from Giants' Graves. 'Nearest' may involve a long drive up and down glens or, if you are near the coast, may include a ferry ride! Please check the property map to make sure the location is right for you.