Most Outlander Fans come to Inverness wanting to visit the real Craigh na Dun only to find out that there is no such place but there is a standing stone circle that happens to be only five minutes drive from Culloden Battlefield called Clava Cairns and it is a wonderful place to visit. Diana only visited Clava Cairns for the first time after she had written the the first Outlander book and was surprised that it happened to have a cleft stone in it. She used this stone on the back cover of the First Outlandish Companion and we used it in our Inverness Outlander Logo.
But as Diana herself told us that she was sure Claire would have mentioned the three big cairns that were there if Clava Cairns was Craigh Na Dun. Clava Cairns is a very special place and because of it’s proximity to Culloden it has been very busy with Outlander Fans visiting.
So where is Craigh Na Dun? In the show they made stones and erected them at a beauty spot in Kinloch Rannoch, Perthshire. If you go visit this area you won’t see any standing stones but it is a stunning area to see.
There are lots of standing stones and and stone circles in the Inverness area but none that are called Craigh Na Dun. There is however a standing stone on a hill that overlooks Inverness just as Diana described in her books but the hill is not called Craigh Na Dun it’s called Craig Dunain (that’s close enough for us ). From the hill you can look down at the lights of Inverness.
This Cairn has only been rediscovered in the past few years as it was over grown with gorse for many years.
The Leachkin chambered cairn is the remains of a round Orkney-Cromarty type chambered cairn the standing stone that’s left consist of a coarse conglomerate, it dates back from the Neolithic period (c.4000-2000BC).
To find it follow the Great Glen Way walk that runs from Inverness to Forth William. It will take you an hour to an hour and a half walking from Inverness city centre to get to the Cairn or you could drive to the Scottish Natural Heritage building, Great Glen House, Leachkin Rd, Inverness IV3 8NW and walk from there. It will take you about a twenty minute walk to the cairn.
Cross the road at the SNH building go around the Robertson Building which is under construction at the moment and follow the blue Great Glen Way signs up the hill.
Follow the path up through the woods turning right at this gate.
This path was the old drovers road which was the road used by the men escaping after the Battle of Culloden.
You get to see some nice views over Inverness before the path takes a left up hill.
Not far up hill from this view point you will see another blue Great Glen post on the path.
Take the path directly opposite this sign (there’s a picnic bench there now ). Follow the small path heading up the hill.
As you head up the hill you will see the top of the standing stone.
Reach the top, sit down and enjoy, whatever the weather or time of year, we do recommend going there to watch the sun rise, it’s magical.
You may find some blue wild flowers near the stone just like Claire.
It’s a great place to go and hang out with friends.
In this area there is also a Fairy Well and a Cradle-stone click here
”Above the Inverness District Asylum, and immediately below the ascent to Craig Dunain, is “Fuaran a Chragain Bhric,” or the Well of the Spotted Rock. This was in former times a place of great resort, the waters, among other healing virtues, being supposed to be strongly diuretic. The bushes around were adorned with rags and threads; while pebbles, pins, and shells might be observed in the bottom of the spring. We have seen one juniper bush close by so loaded with rags and threads as to be hardly distinguishable. This was also a fairy well, and if a poor mother had a puny, weak child, which she supposed had been left by the fairies in place of her own, by exposing it here at night, and leaving some small offering, as a dish of milk, to propitiate the king of fairyland, the bantling would be carried off, and in the morning she would find her own, and restored in health.
-Alex Fraser, Northern Folklore on Wells and Water, p. 17.
The hollow stone lies on the summit on the ridge of Leachkin above the Mental Hospital. The stone is flat and hollow in the centre [and] resembles in size and shape a child’s coffin. The greater part remains but the foot is broken or weathered away. At one end it used to be hooded over like a cradle and was known variously as Cradle-stone and Clach-na-shia (Fairies’ stone).”
Diana mentions these in Outlander we hope to one day find the Fairy Well and Cradle Stone and we will update this blog with details if we do. If anyone who reads this can help please get in touch through our Facebook or Twitter page.
We asked Diana on Twitter if she’d ever been to these stones. She replied