Cairnpapple Hill

West Lothian | Bathgate | Henge & cairn | ★★★

[Cairnpapple Hill]

Cairnpapple Hill is a fascinating, ancient landscape on high ground north of Bathgate. A whopping 5,500 years ago, 6 hearths were constructed here, buried by a henge (a circular monument composed of earth banks, ditches and timber posts) around 500 years later. The wood has long rotted away but the 24 post holes are still visible. Fast forward another 1,000 years and at least three important people were buried here, two in rock-lined cists (pits) which were covered over by a stone cairn. The cairn was later enlarged with further burial sites added. Today's visitors can climb down a ladder to view the two cists inside the cairn - which has been protected by a concrete cap which unfortunately detracts from the atmosphere a little - as well as circumnavigate the rest of the site. The breadth of history here is very interesting indeed, and we reckon this is one of the best Neolithic monuments to visit on the Scottish mainland (several monuments in the Orkney and Shetland Isles are in a league of their own). The cairn is located on high ground and also makes a good viewpoint with hills as far away as Arran visible - though the view from The Knock nearby is slightly better. A basic visitor centre has a useful scale model with different sections of the monument colour-coded according to time of construction.

[Burial cists inside the cairn]

Location & info

📌 Cairnpapple Hill ★★★
Off minor road 2 mi north of Bathgate, G.R.: NS 987717 ///wishing.grub.sunset
Open daily, April to September | £6 adult / £3.60 child / free for Historic Environment Scotland members

💬 From the roadside layby at G.R.: NS 990718 ///stall.follow.late it's a 5-min walk to the cairn on an uphill path with steps.

[Cairnpapple Hill]

[Ladder into the cairn]

[Light hitting one of the graves]

[Post holes and the view southeast]

[Looking north towards the Ochil Hills]


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