Grey Cairns of Camster


The Grey Cairns of Camster are two enormous Neolithic chambered cairns located at the heart of the flow land in Caithness, in the Highland region of Scotland, about 8.5 miles (13.7 km) south of Watten and 5 miles (8.0 km) north of Lybster. Dated to around 3,500 B.C.E they are among the oldest structures in Scotland and they enshrine the complexity of Neolithic architecture and cosmology, with their central burial chambers accessed by low narrow passages from the outside and unique acoustic qualities.

The Grey Cairns are really well named, and the two cairns are very different in appearance. The oldest cairn is a circular structure some 18 meters in diameter and 3.7 meters high while the other is 70 meters long and encrusts the top of a natural ridge. The former has a very low and narrow passage leading into a central chamber, which retains its original corbelled construction. Excavations in the 1800s revealed burnt bones, pottery and flint tools, along with a number of skeleton parts. 

Camster Long Cairn has two internal chambers located towards the north end of the cairn and both are accessed by passages from the east. At its two ends, raised stone horn shaped structures extended outwards defining ritual/ceremonial platforms/forecourts. The northern forecourt incorporates an unusual/unique platform which is now grassed over to protect it.

I hope you enjoy this short documentary of my exploration on the Grey Cairns of Camster.