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Clava Cairns
Clava Cairns

Clava Cairns

star-5
1,779 Reviews
Free admission

The Basics

Two parts of the Clava Cairns complex can be visited: the Balnuaran of Clava, which features two passage graves, a kerb ring cairn, standing stones, and a central ring cairn; and Milton of Clava to the southwest, with its ruins of a medieval chapel and a cairn. Visitors will find information boards at the site explaining the significance and symbolism of the ancient stone mounds.

The cairns make for a common stop on guided day trips from Inverness and Invergordon, most of which include round-trip transport and visits to other famous Highland sites, such as Loch Ness, Cawdor Castle, and Culloden Battlefield—the site of a major Jacobite defeat—which is just a 5-minute drive from the Clava Cairns.

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Recent reviews from experiences in Inverness

star-5
Beautiful, interesting while peaceful and relaxing.
Sheryl_N, Aug 2021
Glen Affric, Culloden & Clava Cairns Small-Group Tour from Inverness
Glen Affric is truly a beautiful, awesome hidden treasure. So glad Helen was our guide..she made our walk thru Glen Affric so much more than just walking thru a beautiful forest area.
star-5
Highly recommend
AmandaA, Jun 2021
Glen Affric, Culloden & Clava Cairns Small-Group Tour from Inverness
We had such an amazing day with Seana our driver, she told us very interesting facts about the local culture, and took us to some amazing places. I really could not recommend more this tour and company. will surely be using them again.
star-5
Great way to start our family holiday
Catherine_J, Sep 2021
Culloden Battlefield, Clava Cairns & Cawdor Castle
This tour was an amazing start to our holiday in the Highlands. We got to see Clava Cairns, Culloden battlefield, Cawdor Castle and Beauly Priory and some friendly Highland Cows into the bargain. The weather was sunny and hot for the most part and the beautiful Cawdor Castle gardens were a highlight for me. We all enjoyed the reenactment of the battlefield at Culloden and the kids were fascinated by the video demonstrations of the old cannons firing. These are all amazing places and we would never have managed all this on our own on public transport. The best thing about the tour though is George who is a mine of interesting information that you would not find in a guidebook. For the whole of the rest of our tour of the Highlands someone would pipe up at least once a day ‘remember what George said about that’ (clans, salmon fishing and even Jimmy Page!) I would highly recommend starting your Highland adventure with a tour with George.

Things to Know Before You Go

  • Clava Cairns is a must-see for history buffs.

  • The area around the cairns can become muddy after rain, so wear sturdy footwear.

  • Bring rain gear in case of a downpour, as the open-air site is exposed.

  • The surface around the cairns is uneven and may be difficult for wheelchair users to navigate.

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How to Get There

The Clava Cairns are located about seven miles (11 kilometers) east of Inverness, and are not served by public transport. From the Culloden Battlefield, the cairns are just a 5-minute drive or 30-minute walk away. Parking is available at the site.

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When to Get There

Because of their off-the-beaten-track location, the Clava Cairns do not attract big crowds. If you want to have the site all to yourself, go early in the morning.

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The Mystery and Intrigues of the Clava Cairns

As with many prehistoric burial sites, the Clava Cairns remain somewhat of a mystery. Historians can only theorize about their purpose or meaning. The cairns’ alignment suggest midwinter sunset was an important time for those who built it, but it’s not known exactly why it was so significant. With the sheer amount of effort necessary to arrange the stones for each grave, historians also believe the cairns may have housed important members of society.

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