The Pyramid in Scotland: A 2024 Guide

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While Egypt may be the undisputed graceland of (almost) all things pyramid-related, there are a few other locations in the world that boast their very own claim to pyramid fame, and Scotland is one of them.

And unlike the infamous pyramids of Giza, the Scottish pyramid (known locally as the Secret Scottish Pyramid), is quite the hidden gem.

The best part? Yes, of course you can visit it. 

Here’s everything you need to know before planning your trip to visit the pyramid in Scotland.

What is the Secret Scottish Pyramid?

The Secret Scottish Pyramid is a 35-foot stone cairn that has been standing in its location on the Balmoral Estate in Aberdeenshire, Scotland, since the early Victorian era.

While the Secret Scottish Pyramid has no connections to the pyramids of Egypt, it does have a rich and fanciful history that can be dated back to past royalty (much like that of the Egyptian pyramids).

The pyramid is one of 11 identified stone cairns in Balmoral, Scotland, and is also the largest. For those unfamiliar, a cairn is a man-made stone structure that is typically a burial monument or marker of where someone from yester-year perished.

The purpose of this cairn in particular is to commemorate Prince Albert when he died in 1861. When the prince passed away, his monarch wife, Queen Victoria, organised the erecting of this pyramid-shaped cairn as a tribute to her nature-loving husband. 

The pyramid can be found in the woodlands of the Balmoral Estate, neighbouring the Cairngorms National Park, which signifies the prince’s love of the outdoors, as well as being close by to the royal Balmoral Castle. 

The Pyramid in Scotland: Everything You Need to Know

The pyramid can be found nestled into the wooded haven of Balmoral Castle and Estate, and is a stone’s throw away from the incredible Cairngorms National Park (which is well worth a visit in itself) in Aberdeenshire.

The pyramid’s location is ideal for lovers of the great outdoors, and requires a smallish hike to get there. But even for those who aren’t partial to an on-foot trek in the wilderness, the Secret Scottish Pyramid is a sight to behold – and is well worth the effort to get there.

16 Cairns of Balmoral Estate

At present, there are 16 stone cairns on the trail to the largest of them (the pyramid), all commemorating various royal ancestors, most of which were organised by Queen Victoria herself.

The smaller cairns commemorate:

  • The wedding of Prince Albert Edward 
  • The wedding of Princess Alice
  • The wedding of Princess Helena
  • The wedding of Princess Louise
  • The wedding of Prince Arthur
  • The wedding of Prince Leopold
  • The wedding of Princess Beatrice
  • The wedding of Prince Alfred
  • The passing of Duchess of Kent (Queen Victoria’s mother)
  • The purchase of Ballochbuie forest in 1878
  • The diamond jubilee for Queen Elizabeth II in 2012 (two cairns are dedicated to this)

How to Get to the Pyramid in Scotland By Car

Depending on where you’re staying in Scotland, you will need to get to Balmoral Castle.

This Scottish landmark is somewhat off the beaten track, so care, consideration, and a darn good pair of hiking boots are required! While there is a woodland path, this trail can be steep (and rather muddy) at times, so appropriate footwear is a necessity. 

Read More: Scotland Driving: What You Need To Know

So, to get to the pyramid by car, you will need to head to the Balmoral Estate car park, which is the closest you can get your vehicle to the monument (hence why hiking boots are required). From there:

  • Head over the green bridge that crosses the River Dee, and head towards the main gates of Balmoral Castle (which you will be able to see).
  • Don’t go through the gates, however! Instead, you’ll need to follow the road to the left.
  • After about 800 metres, you will see a signpost that says ‘Royal Lochnagar Distillery’, which is your cue to turn right up the hill.
  • Walk a further 100 metres to a junction, which crosses over a small bridge in the direction of Easter Balmoral village.
  • Turn left immediately after setting foot off the bridge (and not in the direction of the village), which will lead you to a private road that ascends past a few cottages.
  • After about 300 metres, you will see a sign that indicates left towards a footpath, which will then be signposted as ‘Prince Albert’s Cairn’. 
  • Continue ascending up this path (which is quite steep and stealthy and not recommended for anyone with poor health or mobility) for about a kilometre, to which you will find a summit which leads to a clearing in which the cairn can be visibly seen and approached. 

The cairn offers spectacular views of both the Cairngorms National Park and Balmoral Castle, so you’re well-advised to bring a camera with you!

Full Circular Walk of the Cairns

It is perfectly doable to visit each of the cairns and enjoy a nature-fuelled day taking in the incredible scenery of Balmoral Estate by way of the woodland trail.

The full cairn walk is around six miles in length and takes just under three hours to complete. Here’s how to complete the trek once you’ve visited the pyramid:

  • Continue along the woodland path that descends the hill on the other side of the pyramid.
  • You will stumble across a landrover track, which is your cue to turn right and keep descending circa 300 metres until you reach a junction.
  • At this junction, turn right and continue descending the track until you see a wooden gate. 
  • Go through the gate and continue the descent in the direction of Easter Balmoral. 
  • Leave the same way you came, heading towards the road that leads back to the car park. This concludes the full circular walk of the Cairns trail.

Please note: the full circular walk is closed during the months of August and September, but you may still visit the pyramid during that time.

Visiting Cairngorms National Park

When in Rome, right?! 

While you’re visiting Balmoral Estate and the Scotland Pyramid, you’d be a fool not to have a gander around the stunning Cairngorms National Park.

Fun fact: Cairngorms National Park is the biggest national park in the UK, meaning those who love nothing more than outdoor exploring and camping are in for a treat.

The park also features toilets and a car park, making it a fun (and free) day out for all of the family, and just some of the activities up for grabs include:

  • Watersports
  • Snowsports (weather permitting, of course)
  • Hiking
  • Camping
  • Cycling
  • Golfing (yes, there are a whopping 12 golf courses!)
  • Bungee jumping

Pyramid in Scotland: FAQs

Are there any pyramids in Scotland?

Yes, as mentioned above, there is one pyramid in Scotland, which was built in the Victorian era, as commissioned by the queen herself, upon the death of her husband, Prince Albert. The pyramid can be found on the Balmoral Estate, near the Cairngorms National Park, and is accessible to the public.

What is the pyramid on top of a mountain in Scotland?

The Secret Scottish Pyramid, which can be found at an elevation of 1,183 ft above sea level on the Balmoral Estate, and was established in the wake of Prince Albert’s untimely death at the age of 42.

Like many during that era, Albert did not survive exposure to Typhoid, and because he was largely considered the love of Queen Victoria’s life, she arranged for this cairn to be erected in memoriam of her late husband.
The reason Balmoral Estate was chosen as the location for the monument was owing to the prince’s role in establishing the castle as a key royal residency.

Can you visit the pyramid in Scotland?

Yes, the pyramid is accessible to the general public all year round. You can also visit the neighbouring Cairngorms National Park (which is free), and Balmoral Castle (which costs £15 per adult, £6 per child, or £39.95 for a family ticket).

How many pyramids are there in Scotland?

There is just one pyramid in Scotland, which stands at 35 ft. However, there are smaller cairns (in the shape of a pyramid) nearby to the main pyramid (officially known as Prince Albert’s Cairn), which are different sizes, but all of which are smaller than Prince Albert’s.

How old is the pyramid in Scotland?

The Scottish pyramid was erected on the 21st of August, 1862, after the loss of Queen Victoria’s husband, the Prince Consort, Albert. 
It is said that after his death, the queen spent many years in mourning at Balmoral Estate, before supposedly returning to London toward the end of her reign.

How to get to the pyramid in Scotland?

Please see the main body of this blog for instructions on how to reach the pyramid by foot/car.
However, for those visiting via train, the nearest train station to the Secret Scottish Pyramid can be located in the nearby Ballater Railway Station at Royal Deeside.

More Scotland Posts

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