Live /

Over 20 of our staffed sites have now reopened and we are delighted to welcome you back. Booking in advance is essential. Find out more and book now

x
 

History

The undisturbed dead

Carn Ban is a chambered burial cairn about 30m long and 18m wide. Uphill, at the north-east end is a semi-circular forecourt which would once have formed an impressive entrance to the cairn.

Inside is a slab-built chamber measuring 5.7m long and 2.4m high, divided into four compartments by small slabs.

Perhaps owing to its remote location, Carn Ban escaped the disturbance suffered by many other cairns, having only been excavated once by the antiquarian T H Bryce in 1902.

Bryce recovered a few artefacts from the chamber, including worked stone and fragments of burned and unburned bone.

Ancient beliefs

Chambered cairns occur in various forms across Scotland and much of north-west Europe. They may reflect a common set of beliefs, including a belief in the afterlife.

Evidence suggests that these Neolithic cairns remained in use for as long as 1,000 years and continued to be special places within the landscape for later communities. Studies of these monuments may help us understand and appreciate the beliefs of these ancient communities.

In the past, prehistoric monuments like Carn Ban seem to have been regarded with trepidation by the local islanders. Writing in 1873, antiquarian J MacArthur noted ‘the feelings of superstitious dread with which these monuments are generally regarded’ when discussing excavations at another cairn at Torrylin.

Historic Scotland

Opening times

Open year-round.

Please continue to follow government guidance, staying 2 metres away from other visitors, and bring your own hand sanitiser with you, to help keep everyone safe.

Facilities

Download our visitor app

Discover more on the go – the Historic Scotland app lets you find out about Scotland’s most iconic places wherever you are.

Plan your visit

More than 20 of our sites are now open. Please book your tickets in advance.

Become a member

Join Historic Scotland to visit our properties free of charge for a full year and support our work at the same time.

Hire a site for filming

Use one of our fantastic locations on your next shoot for an awe-inspiring backdrop to your work.

Learning visits

Our 300+ historic places serve as creative inspiration for all sorts of learning activities – and for learners of all ages.

Search our events

See the past brought to life by the imaginative year-round programme of events at our properties.