Chambered Cairns

Trace the stories

Given Arran’s rich historical tapestry, it is not surprising that there are a number of chambered cairns dotted about the island. Most were dug into and disturbed by antiquarians in the 1800s and 1900s.

These Clyde-type cairns were the sites of ritual and burial activity in Neolithic times, so are up to 5000 BC. Some of them are very well known on the island, some are easy to access – and others…well, maybe we’re still to find them!

The best well known is probably Giants’ Graves which sit up behind Whiting Bay and offer a spectacular panorama over to the Holy Isle, the Arran mountains, Ayrshire coast and the Clyde estuary. The site is actually that of two Neolithic chambers and can be easiest accessed by way of the forestry path from south Whiting Bay.

Torrylin Cairn sits at the south of the island, near Kilmory, and you can get there by taking the path from the village hall towards the beach. Carn Ban is a chambered cairn located within the south Arran forestry and maybe it’s because it’s ‘off the beaten track’ that it remains largely undisturbed, having been excavated just once in the late 1900s.

Auchengallon Cairn is surrounded by 15 standing stones and can be accessed via a footpath from the cart track uphill from behind Machrie Garage. Though perhaps not as impressive as Machrie Standing Stones, it is more complete than some of those circles.