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Encyclopedia > Cairn
One of many cairns marking British mass graves at the site of the Battle of Isandlwana.
One of many cairns marking British mass graves at the site of the Battle of Isandlwana.
A cairn to mark the way along a glacier.
A cairn to mark the way along a glacier.

A cairn is an artificial pile of stones, often in a conical form. They are usually found in uplands, on moorland, on mountaintops or near waterways. A cairn is an artificial pile of stones, often in a conical form. ... Image File history File linksMetadata Download high resolution version (2304x1728, 1863 KB) Summary English: This is a photo of Isandlwana the hill in Kwazulu Natal, South Africa where the Battle of Isandlwana was fought. ... Image File history File linksMetadata Download high resolution version (2304x1728, 1863 KB) Summary English: This is a photo of Isandlwana the hill in Kwazulu Natal, South Africa where the Battle of Isandlwana was fought. ... Combatants Britain Zulu Nation Commanders Brevet Lieutenant Colonel Henry Pulleine† Anthony Durnford† Ntshingwayo Khoza Strength 1,400 men 22,000 men Casualties 52 officers killed 1,277 other ranks killed 3,000 killed 3,000 wounded The Battle of Isandlwana was a battle in the Anglo-Zulu War in which... Image File history File links Download high resolution version (1074x1569, 443 KB) Cairn, Switzerland File links The following pages link to this file: Cairn ... Image File history File links Download high resolution version (1074x1569, 443 KB) Cairn, Switzerland File links The following pages link to this file: Cairn ... This article is about the geological formation. ... Cascadilla Creek, near Ithaca, New York in the United States, an example of an upland river habitat. ... Moorland in the Pennines (England); Coarse grasses and bracken tend to dominate especially in high rainfall areas. ... For other uses, see Mountain (disambiguation). ...

Contents

Purpose

In modern times cairns are often erected as landmarks. In ancient times they were erected as sepulchral monuments, or used for practical and astronomical uses. A sepulcher, or sepulchre, is a type of tomb or burial chamber. ...


They are built for several purposes:

  • They may mark a burial site, and/or to memorialize the dead.
  • They may mark the summit of a mountain.
  • Placed at regular intervals, they indicate a path across stony or barren terrain or across glaciers.
  • The Inuit use cairns to look like a human figure, or an inukshuk.
  • In North America, they may mark buffalo jumps or "drive lanes."
  • In North America cairns are often petroforms in the shapes of turtles or other animals.
  • In North America cairns may be used for astronomy.
  • In the Maritimes cairns were used as lighthouse-like holders for fires that guided boats, as in the novel The Shipping News.

Additionally cairns have been used to commemorate any sort of event, from the site of a battle to a place where a cart has tipped over. Some are merely sites where a farmer has removed large amounts of stone from a field. This article needs additional references or sources for verification. ... This article is about the geological formation. ... For other uses, see Inuit (disambiguation). ... An inukshuk on the flag of Nunavut An inukshuk (Inuktitut: inuksuk / ᐃᓄᒃᓱᒃ, plural inuksuit / ᐃᓄᒃᓱᐃᑦ) is a stone landmark used as a milestone or directional marker by the Inuit of the Canadian Arctic. ... North America North America is a continent[1] in the Earths northern hemisphere and (chiefly) western hemisphere. ... A buffalo jump is a cliff formation which North American Indians historically used to kill plains bison by herding the bison and driving them over the cliff. ... Petroforms are large shapes that were made out of large rocks. ... The Maritime provinces. ... The Shipping News is a Pulitzer Prize-winning novel by E. Annie Proulx which was published in 1993, and a film of the same name, released in 2001, set on the Canadian island of Newfoundland. ...


They vary from loose, small piles of stones to elaborate feats of engineering. In some places, games are regularly held to find out who can build the most beautiful cairn. Cairns along hiking trails are often maintained by groups of hikers adding a stone when they pass. Tug of war is an easily organized, impromptu game that requires little equipment. ... Two hikers in the Mount Hood National Forest Eagle Creek hiking Hiking is a form of walking, undertaken with the specific purpose of exploring and enjoying the scenery. ...


History

The word derives from the Scottish Gaelic (and Irish) càrn which has a much broader meaning, and can refer to various types of hills and natural stone piles. The term tends to be used most frequently in reference to Scotland, but is used elsewhere. Scottish Gaelic (Gàidhlig) is a member of the Goidelic branch of Celtic languages. ... This article is about the country. ...


Cairns can be found all over the world in alpine or mountainous regions, and also in barren desert and tundra areas as well as on coasts. For the act of abandoning or withdrawing support from an entity, see desertion. ... For other uses, see Tundra (disambiguation). ...

A cairn to mark the summit of a mountain.
A cairn to mark the summit of a mountain.

Starting in the Bronze Age, cists were sometimes interred into cairns, which would be situated in conspicuous positions, often on the skyline above the village of the deceased. The stones may have been thought to deter grave robbers and scavengers. A more sinister explanation is that they were to stop the dead from rising. It is noteworthy that there is a Jewish tradition of placing small stones on a person's grave whenever you visit, as a token of respect. (Flowers are not usually placed on graves in the Orthodox Jewish tradition.) Stupas in India and Tibet etc. probably started out in a similar fashion, although they now generally contain the ashes of a Buddhist saint or lama. Image File history File links Download high resolution version (1200x1600, 553 KB) Created by my mother Tinelot Wittermans at 17-07-04 12:15, released into GFDL File links The following pages link to this file: Cairn ... Image File history File links Download high resolution version (1200x1600, 553 KB) Created by my mother Tinelot Wittermans at 17-07-04 12:15, released into GFDL File links The following pages link to this file: Cairn ... For other uses, see Mountain (disambiguation). ... The Bronze Age is a period in a civilizations development when the most advanced metalworking has developed the techniques of smelting copper from natural outcroppings and alloys it to cast bronze. ... A cist (IPA ) is a small stone-built coffin-like box used to hold the bodies of the dead (notably during the Bronze Age in Britain and occasionally in Native American burials). ... This article or section does not cite its references or sources. ... The Great Stupa at Sanchi. ... This article is about historical/cultural Tibet. ... A silhouette of a Buddha statue at Ayutthaya, Thailand. ... Lama (Tibetan: བླ་མ་; Wylie: bla-ma) is a title for a Tibetan religious teacher. ...


In Scotland, it is traditional to carry a stone up from the bottom of the hill to place on a cairn. In such a fashion, cairns would grow ever larger. An old Scots Gaelic blessing is Cuiridh mi clach air do chàrn, i.e. 'I'll put a stone on your cairn'. In the Faroe Islands (which are plagued by frequent fogs and heavy rain, and have some of the highest seacliffs in the world) cairns are a common navigational marker over rugged and hilly terrain. In North Africa, they are sometimes called kerkour. Cairns are also common on the Mediterranean island of Corsica. This article is about the country. ... Note: This page contains phonetic information presented in the International Phonetic Alphabet (IPA) using Unicode. ... The Mediterranean Sea is an intercontinental sea positioned between Europe to the north, Africa to the south and Asia to the east, covering an approximate area of 2. ... For other uses, see Corsica (disambiguation). ...

A collection of cairns on the island of Corsica.
A collection of cairns on the island of Corsica.

Today cairns are often used to mark hiking trails or cross-country routes in mountain regions at or above the tree line. Most are small, a foot or less in height, but a few are built taller so as to protrude through a layer of snow. It is traditional for each person passing by a cairn to add a stone, as a small bit of maintenance to counteract the destructive effects of severe winter weather. Often the habit is to only add to the top, and to use a smaller stone than the previous top stone, resulting in a precarious stack of tiny pebbles. Image File history File links Download high resolution version (1001x667, 268 KB) A collection of cairns on Corse, France. ... Image File history File links Download high resolution version (1001x667, 268 KB) A collection of cairns on Corse, France. ... For other uses, see Corsica (disambiguation). ... In this view of an alpine tree-line, the distant line looks particularly sharp. ...


In Scandinavia, cairns are still used as sea marks. They are indicated in navigation charts and maintained as part of the marking system. To increase visibility they are usually painted white.


Scotland and Ireland

The Duan Eireanach, an ancient Irish poem, describes the erection of a family cairn; and the Senchus Mor, a collection of ancient Irish laws, prescribes a fine of three three-year-old heifers for "not erecting the tomb of thy chief." The Brehon Laws were statutes that governed everyday life and politics in Ireland until the Norman invasion of 1171 (the word Brehon is an Anglicisation of breitheamh (earlier brithem), the Irish word for a judge). ...


Meetings of the tribes were held at them, and the inauguration of a new chief took place on the cairn of one of his predecessors. It is mentioned in the Annals of the Four Masters that, in 1225, the O'Connor was inaugurated on the cairn of Fraech, the son of Fiodhach of the red hair. In medieval times cairns are often referred to as boundary marks, though probably not originally raised for that purpose. Signature page from the Annals of the Four Masters Entry for A.D. 432 The Annals of the Four Masters or the Annals of the Kingdom of Ireland by the Four Masters are a chronicle of medieval Irish history. ...


In a charter by King Alexander II of Scots (1221), granting the lands of Burgyn to the monks of Kinloss, the boundary is described as passing "from the great oak in Malevin as far as the Rune Pictorum," which is explained as "the Carne of the Pecht's fieldis." Alexander II (August 24, 1198 – July 6, 1249), king of Scotland, son of William I, the Lion, and of Ermengarde of Beaumont, was born at Haddington, East Lothian, in 1198, and succeeded to the kingdom on the death of his father on 4 December 1214. ... Kinloss is a village in Moray, Scotland. ... For the ancient tribe that inhabited what is now Scotland, see the Picts. ...


In Scottish Highland districts small cairns used to be erected -- even in recent times -- at places where the coffin of a distinguished person was "rested" on its way to the churchyard. Memorial cairns are still occasionally erected, as, for instance, the cairn raised in memory of the prince consort at Balmoral, and "Maule's Cairn," in Glenesk, erected by the earl of Dalhousie in 1866, in memory of himself and certain friends specified by name in the inscription placed upon it. Lowland-Highland divide Highland Sign with welcome in English and Gaelic The Scottish Highlands (A Ghàidhealtachd in Gaelic) include the rugged and mountainous regions of Scotland north and west of the Highland Boundary Fault. ... // Places There are several places named Balmoral. ... Glenesk is a suburb of Johannesburg, South Africa. ... Dalhousie can refer to: Any of the Earls of Dalhousie Dalhousie branch of Clan Ramsay Dalhousie University in Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada Dalhousie, New Brunswick Dalhousie, India Dalhousie Springs, Central Australia This is a disambiguation page — a list of pages that otherwise might share the same title. ...


Cairns as people

Inuksuit at the Foxe Peninsula (Baffin Island), Canada
Inuksuit at the Foxe Peninsula (Baffin Island), Canada

The practice is common in English, cairns are sometimes referred to by their anthropomorphic qualities. In German and Dutch, a cairn is known as Steinmann and Stenenman respectively, meaning literally "stone man". A form of the Inuit inukshuk is also meant to represent a human figure, and is called an inunguak ("imitation of a person"). In Italy, especially the Italian Alps, a cairn is an "Ometto" a small man. Image File history File links Metadata Size of this preview: 800 × 504 pixelsFull resolution (5064 × 3192 pixel, file size: 739 KB, MIME type: image/jpeg) File historyClick on a date/time to view the file as it appeared at that time. ... Image File history File links Metadata Size of this preview: 800 × 504 pixelsFull resolution (5064 × 3192 pixel, file size: 739 KB, MIME type: image/jpeg) File historyClick on a date/time to view the file as it appeared at that time. ... Foxe Peninsula, Nunavut, Canada. ... Baffin Island, Nunavut, Canada. ... The English language is a West Germanic language that originates in England. ... For other uses, see Inuit (disambiguation). ... An inukshuk on the flag of Nunavut An inukshuk (Inuktitut: inuksuk / ᐃᓄᒃᓱᒃ, plural inuksuit / ᐃᓄᒃᓱᐃᑦ) is a stone landmark used as a milestone or directional marker by the Inuit of the Canadian Arctic. ... The West face of the Petit Dru above the Chamonix valley near the Mer de Glace. ...


Other names and traditions

In some regions, piles of rocks used to mark hiking trails are called "ducks" or "duckies". These are typically smaller cairns, so named because some would have a "beak" pointing in the direction of the route. An expression "two rocks do not make a duck" reminds hikers that just one rock resting upon another could be the result of accident or nature rather than intentional trail marking.


The Finnish name for a cairn used as sea mark is "kummeli".


A traditional heap-like stone structure similar to a cairn is called ovoo in Mongolia. It primarily serves religious purposes, and finds use in both tengriist and buddhist ceremonies. Ovoo An ovoo (Mongolian: , heap) is a type of shamanistic rock cairn found in Mongolia. ... It has been suggested that Tengri be merged into this article or section. ... A silhouette of a Buddha statue at Ayutthaya, Thailand. ...


Cairns in legend

Cairns in Sedona, Arizona, USA, where New Agers claim they mark "vortices"

In the mythology of ancient Greece, cairns were associated with Hermes, the god of overland travel. According to one legend, Hermes was put on trial by Hera for slaying her favorite servant, the monster Argus. All of the other gods acted as a jury, and as a way of declaring their verdict they were given pebbles, and told to throw them at whichever person they deemed to be in the right, Hermes or Hera. Hermes argued so skillfully that he ended up buried under a heap of pebbles, and this was the first cairn. Image File history File linksMetadata Size of this preview: 800 × 600 pixelsFull resolution (2048 × 1536 pixel, file size: 640 KB, MIME type: image/jpeg) photo taken by user and is released into the public domain. ... Image File history File linksMetadata Size of this preview: 800 × 600 pixelsFull resolution (2048 × 1536 pixel, file size: 640 KB, MIME type: image/jpeg) photo taken by user and is released into the public domain. ... For the Kia Motors Sedona automobile, see Kia Carnival // Sedona (pronounced ) is a city and community that straddles the county line between Coconino and Yavapai counties in the northern Verde Valley region of the U.S. state of Arizona. ... For other uses, see Hermes (disambiguation). ... For other uses, see Hera (disambiguation). ... There are five figures in Greek mythology named Argus or Argos (Άργος). Argus Panoptes (Argus all eyes) is a giant with a hundred eyes. ...


Sea cairns

Similar structures can be found in water, especially in Scandinavia, often for the purposes of navigation (sea marks). They are indicated in navigation charts and maintained as part of the marking system. To increase visibility they are usually painted white. Red buoy in San Diego Harbor. ...


In English, however, structures in/below water are not generally called "cairns".


See also

Wikimedia Commons has media related to:
Cairns
Wikisource has an original article from the 1911 Encyclopædia Britannica about:
Cairn

Image File history File links Commons-logo. ... Image File history File links Wikisource-logo. ... The original Wikisource logo. ... Encyclopædia Britannica, the eleventh edition The Encyclopædia Britannica Eleventh Edition (1910–1911) is perhaps the most famous edition of the Encyclopædia Britannica. ... The Cairn Terrier is a breed of dog of the terrier category. ... A cist (IPA ) is a small stone-built coffin-like box used to hold the bodies of the dead (notably during the Bronze Age in Britain and occasionally in Native American burials). ... A chambered cairn is a burial monument, usually constructed during the Neolithic, consisting of a cairn of stones inside which a sizeable (usually stone) chamber was constructed. ... Ring-type cairn at Balnauran of Clava The Clava cairn is a type of Bronze Age circular chamber tomb cairn, named after the group of 3 cairns at Balnuaran of Clava, to the east of Inverness in Scotland. ... The Court cairn is a variety of megalithic chamber tomb found in south west Scotland and central and northern Ireland. ... Poulnabrone dolmen in County Clare, Ireland For the French TV miniseries, see Dolmen (TV miniseries). ... An inukshuk on the flag of Nunavut An inukshuk (Inuktitut: inuksuk / ᐃᓄᒃᓱᒃ, plural inuksuit / ᐃᓄᒃᓱᐃᑦ) is a stone landmark used as a milestone or directional marker by the Inuit of the Canadian Arctic. ... // In archaeology, a forecourt is the name given to the area in front of certain types of chamber tomb. ... Sarmatian Kurgan 4th c. ... Ovoo An ovoo (Mongolian: , heap) is a type of shamanistic rock cairn found in Mongolia. ... Petroforms are large shapes that were made out of large rocks. ... The Great Stupa at Sanchi. ... A tumulus (plural tumuli, from the Latin word for mound or small hill, from the root to bulge, swell also found in ) is a mound of earth and stones raised over a grave or graves. ... In Norse paganism, hörgr (plural hörgar) was a type of altar, constructed of piled stones. ...

References

This article incorporates text from the Encyclopædia Britannica Eleventh Edition, a publication now in the public domain. Encyclopædia Britannica, the eleventh edition The Encyclopædia Britannica Eleventh Edition (1910–1911) is perhaps the most famous edition of the Encyclopædia Britannica. ... The public domain comprises the body of all creative works and other knowledge—writing, artwork, music, science, inventions, and others—in which no person or organization has any proprietary interest. ...


External links

  • Pretanic World - Chart of Neolithic, Bronze Age and Celtic Stone Structures

  Results from FactBites:
 
Cairn Terrier Information and Pictures, Cairn Terriers, Cairns (624 words)
The Cairn is one of Scotland's original Terriers, probably a contributor to today's Scottish, West Highland White and Skye Terrier breeds.
Named for the piles of small stones used to mark Scottish farm borders and graves, the Cairn Terrier's job was to rout small animals from their lairs in these stone piles.
Everyone remembers a Cairn called "Toto" in the film "The Wizard of Oz." Some of the Cairn's talents are hunting, tracking, watchdogging, agility, competitive obedience, and performing tricks.
Cairn Terrier - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia (635 words)
It is one of the oldest terriers, originating in the Scottish Highlands, used for hunting burrowing prey among the cairns.
Cairns stand between 9 and 13 inches (23-33 cm) at the withers and weigh 13 to 18 pounds (6 to 8 kg).
The Cairn is double-coated, with a soft, dense undercoat and a harsh outer coat.
  More results at FactBites »

 
 

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