Scheduled Monument

Milton of Clava, cairn 215m SSW ofSM13650

Status: Designated


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The legal document available for download below constitutes the formal designation of the monument under the Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Areas Act 1979. The additional details provided on this page are provided for information purposes only and do not form part of the designation. Historic Environment Scotland accepts no liability for any loss or damages arising from reliance on any inaccuracies within this additional information.


Date Added
Supplementary Information Updated
Prehistoric ritual and funerary: cairn (type uncertain)
Local Authority
Croy And Dalcross
NH 75253 43974
275253, 843974


The monument is the remains of a cairn dating from the Bronze Age (2500BC to 800BC). It is visible as a low, circular, turf-covered stone mound, overlain by a rectangular pile of relatively modern field clearance. A single standing stone is situated on the southwest arc of the cairn. The cairn is of the Clava-type, a form of burial monument often combining a circular cairn, platform and ring of standing stones The monument lies on a gravel terrace overlooking the floodplain of the River Nairn, about 110m above sea level.

Archaeological excavation has demonstrated that the cairn is roughly circular on plan, measuring about 12m in diameter and faced externally with kerbstones, two of which remain visible on the southeast arc. The standing stone lies on the southwest arc of the cairn and measures about 2.5m in height. It likely represents the surviving remnant of a stone circle surrounding the cairn. The cairn is partially overlain by a rectangular mound of field clearance measuring around 10m northwest to southeast by around six metres transversely. This overlies the northwest section of the cairn and extends beyond it.

The scheduled area is circular on plan, measuring 34m in diameter, centred on the cairn, to include the remains described above and an area around them within which evidence relating to the monument's construction, use and abandonment is expected to survive, as shown in red on the accompanying map. The scheduling specifically excludes the above-ground elements of the post-and-wire fence. The monument was first scheduled as part of SM90074 in 1882 and amended in 1923, but the documentation does not conform to current standards; the present amendment rectifies this.

Statement of National Importance

Cultural significance

The monument's cultural significance has been assessed as follows:

Intrinsic Characteristics

The monument is visible as a low cairn, partially overlain by later field clearance. A single monolith standing on the southwest of the cairn is interpreted as the remaining element of an encircling stone circle. Archaeological excavation has confirmed the dimensions and broad characteristics of the monument, but did not identify a central chamber or clarify the exact form of the cairn. The excavation, though, was small-scale and did not extend to the stratified deposits. There is, therefore, good potential for the survival of a wide range of archaeological deposits, including human burials, artefacts and environmental remains such as charcoal and pollen within, beneath and around the upstanding structure of the cairn. The archaeological deposits have the potential to provide information about the date and detailed form of the monument and the ritual and funerary practices conducted, while any artefacts and ecofacts would enhance understanding of contemporary economy, land-use and environment.

Excavations elsewhere indicate that Clava-type cairns were constructed and in use during the Bronze Age, and that such monuments were used for ritual and burial. Questions remain regarding the precise form of this monument, and the exact phasing and dating of Clava cairns in general. Scientific study of the monument's form and construction compared with other cairns would enhance our understanding of the development sequence of this site and of Clava Cairns and Bronze Age ritual and funerary monuments in general.

Contextual Characteristics

The monument at Milton of Clava is part of a well-defined regional group of 50 or more stone-built monuments found around the Moray Firth, the so-called 'Clava Cairns'. These combine a number of similar elements: a circular cairn with a platform on the outside, bounded by a ring of monoliths. This example forms part of a coherent group of three or four broadly contemporary burial monuments, which includes Cludoich (scheduled monument reference number SM6091; Canmore ID14268), Ballagan (scheduled monument reference number SM11900; Canmore ID 14276) and a possible example just a few metres away (scheduled monument reference number SM13652; Canmore ID 14281). The other monuments lie about 235m, 120m and 55m southwest of this site respectively. This cairn also lies around 600m southwest of a larger group of Bronze Age burial monuments at Clava (scheduled monument reference number SM90074). Together, both groups form an extensive Bronze Age cemetery running along the valley floor of the River Nairn.

The proximity of these monuments can give important insights into the Bronze Age landscape, the placing of such sites in the landscape and the development of this ceremonial landscape as a whole. They can add to our understanding of social organisation, land-use and belief during the Bronze Age. More widely the linear orientation and location of the burial monuments can be compared to the linear cemetery at Kilmartin, Argyll. Here a row of five large stone burial monuments, also of Bronze Age date, are located along the floor of the river valley. This monument, therefore, has the potential to enhance our understanding of the development of Bronze Age monumentality and burial, the nature of belief systems, ceremonial and burial practices, as well as the connections between regions.

Clava-type cairns are often positioned close to water courses, in locations that were not dominant in the landscape. At Milton of Clava, the monument is situated on a gravel ridge overlooking the floodplain of the River Nairn. It is prominent within its immediate locality, but not visible from a distance.

Associative Characteristics

There are no know significant associative characteristics which contribute to the site's national importance.

Statement of National Importance

This monument is of national importance because it has an inherent potential to make a significant addition to our understanding of the past, in particular the design, construction and use of burial monuments in the northeast of Scotland. The monument is an example of a regionally distinctive class of Bronze Age monuments and forms an integral part of an extensive cemetery of contemporary burial and ceremonial monuments. It can significantly expand our understanding of the nature of Bronze Age belief systems, ceremonial and burial practices, as well as society and economy. The loss of the monument would diminish our ability to appreciate the related monuments in the vicinity and, more widely, understand the meaning and importance of ceremony and ritual, death and burial in the Bronze Age and the placing of funerary and ceremonial monuments within the landscape.



Historic Environment Scotland reference number CANMORE ID 14281 (accessed on 06/05/2016).

The Highland Council HER reference is MHG3946 (accessed on 06/05/2016).

Fraser, J. (1884) Descriptive notes on the stone circles of Strathnairn and neighbourhood of Inverness', Proceedings of the Society of Antiquaries of Scotland, vol. 18, 1883-4, 34

Henshall, A S. (1963) The chambered tombs of Scotland, vol. 1. Edinburgh.

Innes, C. (1862) Notice of a tomb on the hill of Roseisle, Morayshire, recently opened; also of the chambered cairns and stone circles at Clava, in Nairnshire' Proceedings of the Society of Antiquaries of Scotland, vol. 3, 1857-60.

Jolly, W. (1882) On cup-marked stones in the neighbourhood of Inverness; with an appendix on cup-marked stones in the Western Islands', Proceedings of the Society of Antiquaries of Scotland, vol. 16, 1881-2.

RCAHMS. (1979) The Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Scotland. The archaeological sites and monuments of North-east Inverness, Inverness District, Highland Region, The archaeological sites and monuments of Scotland series no 8. Edinburgh.

Sharples, N M. (1994) Excavations at Miltown of Clava, Inverness-shire', Glasgow Archaeological Journal, vol. 18, 1994.

HER/SMR Reference

  • MHG3946

About Scheduled Monuments

Historic Environment Scotland is responsible for designating sites and places at the national level. These designations are Scheduled monuments, Listed buildings, Inventory of gardens and designed landscapes and Inventory of historic battlefields.

We make recommendations to the Scottish Government about historic marine protected areas, and the Scottish Ministers decide whether to designate.

Scheduling is the process that identifies, designates and provides statutory protection for monuments and archaeological sites of national importance as set out in the Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Areas Act 1979.

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Scheduled monument records provide an indication of the national importance of the scheduled monument which has been identified by the description and map. The description and map (see ‘legal documents’ above) showing the scheduled area is the designation of the monument under the Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Areas Act 1979. The statement of national importance and additional information provided are supplementary and provided for general information purposes only. Historic Environment Scotland accepts no liability for any loss or damages arising from reliance on any inaccuracies within the statement of national importance or additional information. These records are not definitive historical or archaeological accounts or a complete description of the monument(s).

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