My personal blog as a 'grown-up' Goth and Romantic living in the Highlands of Scotland. I write about the places I go, the things I see and my thoughts on life as a Goth and the subculture, and things in the broader realm of the Gothic and darkly Romantic. Sometimes I write about music I like and sometimes I review things. This blog often includes architectural photography, graveyards and other images from the darker side of life.

Goth is not just about imitating each other, it is a creative movement and subculture that grew out of post-punk and is based on seeing beauty in the dark places of the world, the expression of that in Goth rock. It looks back to the various ways throughout history in which people have confronted and explored the macabre, the dark and the taboo, and as such I'm going to post about more than the just the standards of the subculture (Siouxsie, Sisters of Mercy, Bauhaus, et al) and look at things by people who might not consider themselves anything to do with the subculture, but have eyes for the dark places. The Gothic should not be limited by what is already within it; inspiration comes from all places, the key is to look with open eyes, listen carefully and think with an open mind..

Saturday, 13 July 2013

Clava Cairns: Ancient Tombs and Pagan Magick

I went along to the Inverness Pagan Moot picnic at Clava Cairns

Inverness has a small but active Moot, and quite a few Pagans - something I was surprised by when I first moved here because I was led to believe that this far North in Scotland it was quite a conservative and Christian area. I guess the proximity to the Findhorn Foundation has helped with the cultivation of a varied alternative culture, including those who follow an alternative spiritual path, and the incredible landscapes around here are definitely awe-inspiring and probably draw a lot of nature-y folk. 

I decided to walk to Clava Cairns, as they are a good long-ish walk from where I live and the weather was warm and sunny. Perhaps I could have done with bringing along more to drink, as it was actually very warm indeed by the time I got there, and to avoid ticks I was wearing trousers tucked into my walking boots rather than shorts or a skirt. It was also my first time wearing my new purple contact lenses out and about, but they will get their own post. 

Nairn River and Viaduct
Along the way I stopped to take these photographs of the beautiful Victorian railway viaduct over the River Nairn and the valley in flows through. 

Again, the Nairn River
Clava Cairns is an ancient site with three large stone cairns and a small kerb cairn and a stone circle! These stone burials remind me of the ancient barrows in Southern England, near where I used to live, and at 4,000 years old, are from a similar period, perhaps slightly later. I don't know if they were ever covered with earth and grass like the barrows of England, but these are made mainly of hard stone, rather than soft chalk. Now, they are roofless and one can walk into them. Like the ancient monuments of Wiltshire and Southern England, Clava Cairns are associated with a waterway, in this case the Nairn River. There are several other cairn burials locally, all referred to as Clava cairns after the site near Culloden - a little bit confusing for me initially when I tried to work out which particular cairns we were meeting at!

Inside the middle cairn

It was quite a busy day there, with a coach tour parked up and quite a few families and tourists. I, with my micro-braid hair and Gothic attire (not to mention purple eyes) attracted a bit of attention and one polite person asked to take my photograph in a cairn, and I know some of the other tourists seemed to think their photography more surreptitious, but I am more alert than they thought! 

A beautiful sunny day

I am not sure how open the others are to being openly and publicly Pagan on the internet as it can still get you a pile of problems in this modern world, so I have not taken any photos of the picnic itself, only of the Cairns. 

Part of one of the stone circles, with interesting swirls.

The Picnic itself was nice, and the organiser's partner treated us to some delicious vegetarian Eastern European cooking, and I would love to list what I ate here, but I cannot remember the names. I know I had something akin to a quiche or savoury tart, with squash, and lots of fresh vegetables, and a delicious and sticky desert, but sadly I don't know what it was! Not much help to any of my readers! We had some interesting discussions about psychedelic experiences (something I have never had), Pagan books and faeries, among other things. 

All photographs in today's blog were taken by me on my smartphone. It's a bit of an old one, so the camera quality isn't that amazing. Sorry if it looks like it was photographed on a potato! 


  1. Hi, where did you live in the south? I'm from the south west and obsessed with ancient burial grounds,cairns,barrows etc
    Ps I love your blog. It's a really interesting read ;)

    1. I've lived in several places including Bristol, Peterborough and a few parts of the Thames Valley. In terms of visiting barrows, I would definitely recommend Wiltshire and the Vale of White Horse area, although there are barrows across the UK. Check out for places to visit near you.

  2. Considering that you used an old phone, I'd say that the photos turned out quite well. The countryside that surrounds you really is beautiful and you capture it well. The fact that so much magick has been and likely is still practiced there makes your area even more special.

    1. People certainly still use it as a religious site, apparently people often leave crystals and candles there (not really the best offering, in my opinion, as candles can be littering as they are often non-biodegradable AND a fire hazard when the weather actually gets hot and dry).


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