Cairn


Definition

Originating from the Scots Gaelic – càrn – a cairn is a human-made pile (or stack) of stones.

A significant Cairn on top of Mam Sodhail overlooking Loch Affric

A significant Cairn on top of Mam Sodhail overlooking Loch Affric

What is their purpose?

Cairns have been used throughout the centuries for a number of purposes, including for burial mounds and locating buried objects. Some cairns are also believed to have ceremonial purposes.

In more recent times, people have started to use them to mark out land boundaries or routes.

Some have started the tradition of adding a stone to cairns at summits, showing that they have reached the top, and can now turn around!

 

What do Cairns look like?

There’s a huge variety in the size and shape of cairns depending on their location and, possibly, the amount of accessible rock available in the area.

Aside from this, they are as you would expect them to be – a pile of rocks!

A field of cairns on the road north from Spean Bridge

A field of cairns on the road north from Spean Bridge


Where is your favourite cairn (big or small?). Why not leave your answers in the Comments box!


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