Cairn Holy Chambered Cairn I & II – Scotland - Atlas Obscura

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Cairn Holy Chambered Cairn I & II

A stone burial chamber that was also the site of religious rituals.  


Cairn Holy is comprised of two chambered cairns situated just over 400 feet from each other. The name Cairn Holy comes from the Gaelic “Carn na h-ulaidhe” which means “cairn of the stone tomb.”

Both tombs are open to the elements having been robbed of their original covering stones, which were most likely used to create field dykes and walls.

Cairn Holy I is considered the more elaborate of the two. The curving, crescent-shaped façade of tall, pillar stones once formed a backdrop for a forecourt situated in front of the tomb. Fires were lit in front of the façade, possibly as part of ritual ceremonies.

The tomb was comprised of an inner and an outer tomb. The inner compartment was built as a closed box, originally it had a capstone roof. Some of the stone slabs making up the inner burial chamber are carved with cup and ring marks. It is believed that the outer chamber, façade, and forecourt were added later.

According to legend, Cairn Holy II is the burial chamber for the Scottish King, Galdus. However, in truth, the cairn is much older. 

Know Before You Go

There is a small car park with an honesty box just in front of Cairn Holy I. The location is listed on Google Maps, and there are several signs that assist in finding the Cairn's whereabouts. Note that the road leading up to the site is a single lane. Though there are a number of pull over spots along the way. Just be comfortable with driving on a country lane, and proceed with caution.

As the site is located outdoors, wear sensible clothing and footwear. Be prepared to encounter uneven ground and sloping.

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August 24, 2022

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