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10 December 2019
Public help document damage to historic Scottish sites

Members of the public are helping to document the effects of weather and vandalism at some of Scotland's most ancient monuments. As they are uploading images of ancient sites, experts use the pictures to spot changes in the state of the sites.
     Historic Environment Scotland and the Institute of Sustainable Heritage at University College London are working on Monument Monitor, a two-year project involving 20 sites.
     The 4,000-year-old Clava Cairns near Inverness is among the monitored 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.
     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.

Edited from BBC News (6 December 2019)

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