What is a Cairn?

Cairn Trail Markers in Acadia National Park along the coastline.


Now that we have a Cairn Terrier, I think the question what is a cairn is begged to be asked? A cairn is a mound of stones piled up as a memorial or to mark a boundary or path.   

There is a series of cairns in Acadia National park where it is too rocky to post any trail signs.   There they are not the usual pile of rocks, a sort of bench shape with a single rock sitting on the bench.    The unique shape and style of the cairns of Acadia will keep you on track as you travel this wonderful island’s trails.    No wondering if this pile of rocks is telling you something or not.  Keep on following those benches.  

A Cairn In the Mountains.


They are often found in mountainous areas or in the deserts as well.   These amazing piles of stone have marked places for 100’s of years. They were left by pioneer travelers who thought that point that a little more direction was needed.   Did the pioneer who started each cairn  travel for a day in the wrong direction and when they backtracked they started a new cairn to tell the next traveler not to make the same mistake?  

A memorial cairn

Historic Memorial Cairn

If you go to Britain or Scotland you will find many cairns erected in memorial.  Though many of them are very old, they are sill be erected.   One of recent history’s events the Lockerbie crash site is honored with a cairn.  Some are quite simple and others, very structured and including plaques telling you who they are honoring.  

Our Cairn Terrier Harley

Cairn terriers are vermin dogs who would love to find a cairn with a few mice or rats and make a big fuss until he had rid the cairn of all invaders.  Ours loves to climb and sit on rocks and no rocky terrain is too much for him.  So far no vermin, but I expect a flurry of baking and digging when he encounters that first field mice trying to scurry away from him.   I will keep you posted.