Clava Cairns: The ancient stones that inspired Outlander

What are Clava Cairns?

Clava Cairns are a group of prehistoric burial monuments located near Inverness in Scotland. They date back to the Bronze Age, around 2000 BC, and consist of circular stone chambers surrounded by standing stones. The site is also known as Balnuaran of Clava, and is one of the best-preserved examples of its kind in Scotland.

The cairns are divided into two types: passage graves and ring cairns. Passage graves have a narrow entrance that leads to a central chamber, where human remains and other objects were placed. Ring cairns have no entrance, and are simply enclosed by a ring of stones. Some of the cairns have cup and ring markings on the stones, which are mysterious symbols carved by ancient people.

The cairns are aligned with the winter solstice, meaning that the sun sets between the stones on the shortest day of the year. This suggests that the site had some astronomical or ritual significance for the people who built it.

How did Clava Cairns inspire Outlander?

Outlander is a popular historical fantasy series by Diana Gabaldon, which follows the adventures of Claire Randall, a nurse from 1945 who travels back in time to 18th century Scotland through a stone circle. The series has been adapted into a TV show, which has attracted millions of fans worldwide.

Clava Cairns: The ancient stones that inspired Outlander

The stone circle that Claire uses to travel through time is called Craigh na Dun, and is a fictional place. However, many fans believe that Clava Cairns was the inspiration for Craigh na Dun, as the site is located near Inverness, where the story begins. The author herself has confirmed that she visited Clava Cairns while writing the first book, and was impressed by the atmosphere and the history of the place.

Clava Cairns has become a popular destination for Outlander fans, who want to see the ancient stones and imagine themselves in Claire’s shoes. Some fans even try to touch the stones, hoping to experience the same magic as the heroine. However, no time travel or meeting with handsome Highlanders is guaranteed.

What else can you see at Clava Cairns?

Clava Cairns is not only a place for Outlander fans, but also for anyone interested in Scotland’s rich and diverse heritage. The site is part of a larger complex of archaeological monuments, which includes a stone circle, a kerb cairn, and a medieval chapel. The area is also surrounded by beautiful scenery, with the River Nairn flowing nearby and the Culloden Battlefield in the distance.

Clava Cairns is free to visit and open all year round. There are information boards and a car park on site, but no other facilities. Visitors are advised to respect the site and not to damage or litter the area. The site is also protected by law, and any unauthorized disturbance or excavation is prohibited.

Clava Cairns is a fascinating and mysterious place, where you can explore the past and imagine the future. Whether you are a fan of Outlander or not, you will surely find something to inspire you at this ancient site.

By Ishan Crawford

Prior to the position, Ishan was senior vice president, strategy & development for Cumbernauld-media Company since April 2013. He joined the Company in 2004 and has served in several corporate developments, business development and strategic planning roles for three chief executives. During that time, he helped transform the Company from a traditional U.S. media conglomerate into a global digital subscription service, unified by the journalism and brand of Cumbernauld-media.

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