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Vandalism at ancient Clava Cairns burial site

image copyrightInverness Outlanders
image captionDislodged stones and graffiti at Clava Cairns

One of Scotland's ancient burial sites has been vandalised.

Stones have been dislodged and graffiti written on a rock at the 4,000-year-old Clava Cairns near Culloden in the Highlands.

The cairns were built as houses for the dead and the cemetery was a used as a sacred place for 1,000 years.

The damage to the cairns, an inspiration for Diana Gabaldon's Outlander stories, was highlighted by local group Inverness Outlanders.

'Cursed stone'

A spokesman for Historic Environment Scotland, which manages the site, said: "We are aware of the recent vandalism to Clava Cairns and remedial work is scheduled to remove it.

"Thankfully incidents such as this are rare, however, we'd ask that members of the public refrain from graffiti at our sites and remind them that it is a criminal offence to cause reckless or deliberate damage to a scheduled monument."

There has been interference at the site previously.

Seventeen years ago, a Belgian tourist took a stone from one of the cairns as a souvenir before returning it after complaining it had cursed his family.

Surprised staff at Inverness Tourist Centre received a parcel containing the stone and a letter which urged them to return it to its rightful place at Clava Cairns.

The man said that since taking the stone his daughter had broken her leg, his wife had become very ill, and he had lost his job and broken his arm.

A tourist official returned the "cursed stone" to Clava Cairns.

image copyrightAnne Burgess/Geograph
image captionClava Cairns was used as a sacred place for 1,000 years

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