Clearance Cairn - Creation of Clearance Cairns

Creation of Clearance Cairns

Many clearance stones were used in the construction of defensive structures, houses, farm buildings, walls, drainage ditches, road metalling, etc. Where permanent clearance cairns were formed it was predominately on waste land, such as steep slopes, edges of woodland, field corners, and around earth-fast boulders.

The amount of stone which needed to be cleared from fields depended upon the local geology, glacial deposits, glacial erratics, etc. Many cairns are mainly composed of stones which could have been carried by a single person who would have followed the plough as it turned up small boulders, etc. Some surviving cairns are of considerable antiquity as field clearance has been practised since the beginnings of agriculture in the Stone Age, such as at the Gardberg site in Vestre Slidre, Oppland, Norway. A Bronze Age origin for clearance cairns is more common.

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