Standing Stones
Caithness, Highland
Nearest town: Wick
Nearest village: Achavanich
Map reference: ND 187417

Achavanich Image Looking NE from the open end of the unusual horseshoe-shaped arrangement of small standing stones

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Near Loch Stemster in Caithness is an unusual horseshoe-shaped arrangement of small standing stones. The tallest is only 2 m (6 ft 6 in) high. Some stones may have been taller, but weathering has caused them to crack and split. Only 36 stones remain in the setting, although there may have been about 54 originally.
    At most stone circles the flat faces of the stones follow the line of the setting, but at Achavanich the flat faces are 'side on'. The stone slabs appear to be set into a low mound of earth and stone, possibly the result of levelling the central area. Purpose and date of this setting are unknown, but they are usually assumed to belong to the Bronze Age.
    Outside the NE corner of the setting are some small slabs, possibly the remains of cist burials, protruding through the turf. Close to SE there's also a cairn, situated on a knoll. The fact that these later sites were built in the same area shows that the region remained one of ritual importance over the centuries.

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