Scotland. Day 4, 2nd July.
The Grey Cairns of Camster are on a minor road in the north-east corner of Scotland. They date back to the neolithic, somewhere between 3,000BC and 7,000BC, nobody knows exactly how long ago. At the time, this was a populated area of good farming land but it turned to peat moorland during the bronze age (2100BC to 750BC). This may have been due to climate change plus removal of tree cover for farming.
Cairns such as these are the oldest structures that survive. Houses at the time likely used wood and have not survived. The round cairn is 18 metres in diameter and four metres high.
This is the entrance to the round cairn. You crawl down a narrow passage, perhaps three feet high and twenty feet long, to the burial chamber. The first modern people to enter these chambers found human bones as well as bones of various animals.
Although the outside of the cairns are just piled rocks, the chambers are very well constructed, as no doubt they would need to be to last so long.
As well as the round cairn there is the long cairn. It is 60 metres long and between 10 and 20 metres wide. It has two funeral chambers.
This is the larger of the two chambers and is around three metres in circumference. There are also a couple of small alcoves off to the side. The roof is concrete, either for reasons of safety or because the first visitors broke in through there.