Highlands & Islands

Public help document damage to historic Scottish sites

Vandalism at Clava Cairns burial site Image copyright Inverness Outlanders
Image caption The ancient Clava Cairns, which has been damaged in the past, is one of the sites in the citizen science project

Members of the public are helping to document the effects of weather and vandalism at some of Scotland's most historic sites.

They are uploading images of castles, standing stones and ancient burial grounds.

Experts can use the pictures to spot changes in the state of the sites.

Monument Monitor involves 20 sites, including Caerlaverock Castle near Dumfries and the Pictish Maiden Stone in Aberdeenshire.

Historic Environment Scotland and the Institute of Sustainable Heritage at University College London are working on the two-year project.

The 4,000-year-old Clava Cairns near Inverness is another of the locations.

One of Scotland's ancient burial sites, the cairns and the standing stones are credited with inspiring parts of author Diana Gabaldon's Outlander stories.

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

Image caption Clava Cairns and its standing stones is a 4,000 year old burial ground

The site has suffered damage in the past.

In 2017, stones were dislodged and graffiti written on a rock.

There had been interference at the site 17 years previously when a Belgian tourist took a stone from one of the cairns as a souvenir.

He later returned it to the Highlands 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.

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