Chambered Cairns

For the first 6000 years of Caithness’s history we have no idea what kind of houses people lived in. But we do know a great deal about what they did with their dead. The county is littered with over 70 stone monuments called chambered cairns. In the north-west of the county there are 20 and you can explore them all here.

In Caithness the main archaeological remains from the Neolithic are the chambered cairns in which farming communities buried their dead.  Hidden within the huge stone cairns are passages, chambers and alcoves. It was here that individuals were placed, offerings of food and precious objects placed beside them.

The county is litterd with cairns of different shapes and sizes. Some are round, others long.  Many have horned forecourts. Was this where ceremonies and rituals took place prior to burying the dead?

Archaeological excavations show that these monuments were used for thousands of years. As the years passed different generations returned to bury their dead in these important buildings.

Back to First Farmers: The Neolithic