"They're a real puzzle. The only guess I can come up with is that they were created by a youngster who was bored with their job of keeping an eye on the livestock."
In previous posts, I have suggested several reasons for a cairn being raised, such as to make boundary markers, way markers, summit markers and as grave markers, burial places and memorials. But the habit many have, of adding a stone to any cairn they see such as to this large cairn on the summit of Beinn na Seilg, suggests they have other, more difficult to explain roles. For example, is the act, "an attempt to fix the memory of our brief triumph, and of our passing?"
There's obviously some deep significance to most of us in placing a rock on a pile in a high place - in the sense that I don't think we'd add to a pile of rocks in the middle of a meadow or by the wayside - which is why the examples Dave found are so intriguing.
This little cairn contains twelve stones. It's on a remote hilltop near the middle of the peninsula, and it contains one stone for each member of our close family. Apparently, this habit of building personal cairns is becoming so prevalent in some national parks that the rangers go around pulling them down.
Many thanks to Dave King for pictures and story, and to George Inglis.