A passage tomb at Balnuran of Clava, Scotland.

Balnuaran of Clava

This project investigated the Clava Cairns, a unique group of passage graves and ring cairns in north-eastern Scotland.

From 1994 to 1996, Richard Bradley directed a series of excavations at Balnuaran of Clava near Inverness, and I carried out a large-scale fieldwalking project to help sitaute these monuments within their landscape context. Systematic investigation of ploughed fields across 80 square kilometres revealed stone tools that dated from the Mesolthic to the Bronze Age, including arrowheads, sickles and a flint dagger. This suggested that discrete areas of the landscape were populated over long periods of time and that the megalithic Clava Cairns were often constructed in these zones. This is significant given that funerary sites in many parts of Britain, including the nearby Black Isle, were often separated from occupation. Here, on the southern shore of the Moray Firth, it seems that the living and the dead were in close proximity.

Further reading

Watson, A. and Bradley, R. 2000. The Clava Cairns and the pattern of settlement: the results of field survey, 1995-1997. In Bradley, R (ed.) The good stones: a new investigation of the Clava Cairns. Edinburgh: Society of Antiquaries of Scotland Monograph 17. 

Phillips, T. and Watson, A. 2000. The living and the dead in northern Scotland 3500 - 2000 BC. Antiquity 74 , 786-92.