The Cairn Key, History, TR The Lost Artefact


I wrote this a while ago and decided to add it to my site for November!

Any gamer that has played “Tomb Raider: The Lost Artefact” should know about the Cairn Key, found in the Willard’s Lair level. However, did you know that the Cairn Key is actually known as Cairn stone(s)? In fact, there was a challenge called “The Cairn Raider Challenge” in Tomb Raider 2013” I remember venturing after these strategically placed stone markers.


These stone piles (cairn means landmark) are usually defined by a stack of stones large or small. The practice of building cairn stone markers has been around for centuries and can be dated back to the Bronze Age.   Different cultures denote them in their own unique way. These rock stacks are found all over the world and on all types of landscapes from mountain tops, tundra, waterways, and deserts to name a few. The principal purpose of a cairn in ancient times was as a landmark denoting a sepulcher. In modern times they are usually created for marking areas of hard to see trails in the mountains, and defining cliffs, mostly above the tree line. In the coastal region of Scandinavia, they are called “sea marks” and are often painted white, and some have an adornment of lights on top, acting as a beacon along the shore, providing a useful guide for ship navigation.


Depending on the country, a cairn could be recognized by a unique term. For example, in Portugal cairns are called moledros. A moledro is a small pile of stones. In a Portuguese folktale cairn are said to be magical soldiers, and if you take a stone from the moledro and put it under your pillow, a soldier will appear for a moment and then the stone will return to the pile.


There are numerous types of Cairns around the globe. There is folklore attached to each one. In Greek mythos, Hermes, who was known as a god of overland travel, is associated with the rock structures. In fact, in Greek Mythology Hermes is responsible for the first cairn. According to one legend that says Hermes killed one of Hera’s favorite servants, the monstrous Argus. It is said all the other gods were his jury, and in order to decide on his innocents, they were given pebbles to throw at whichever person was in the right. In this case, in this case, Hera or Hermes. Hermes argued quite skilfully resulting in many pebbles thrown at him, so he was buried under a pile of pebbles. Thus it is said that pile of pebbles was the first cairn.


An interesting comparison


Cairn Key from the Lost Artefact.


Rudston Monolith (Stephen Horncastle)


This megalith cairn bears a striking resemblance to the one in “The Lost Artefact” This particular stone resides in a graveyard in Rudston Parish Church of all Saints in the East Riding of Yorkshire, England. It weighs 40 tons; through an investigation done by Sir William Strickland in the late 1800’s, it was determined the nearly 26-foot tall megalith went 26’ underground as well. During his investigation, he found many sculls the deeper he dug indicating they could have been the result of ancient sacrifices. The stone is believed to date back to 1600 BC. Though it is not fully understood what purpose the monolith served in ancient culture, it could have easily served as the inspiration behind the cairn key in the Lost Artefact. Only Lara knows for sure. …

I shall be back but remember like Lara to

Explore the World!


About Emma (M.Harris) (213 Articles)
I am a student of Egyptology and Mesoamerica. I am a writer and a Tomb Raider franchise ambassador sponsored by Crystal Dynamics and sent to E3 in 2018. My site is an award-winning Official Tomb Raider site from the Crystal Dynamics official fansite program, and I have been an official site since 2015. I am happy to say that my website has appeared in the game credits for "Rise of the Tomb Raider" as well as "Shadow of the Tomb Raider" I am a huge Tomb Raider fan that has a big taste for world travel and a natural sense for exploration and languages which is reflected through the vast amount of archaeology articles and artwork throughout my website. Thank you for visiting and bookmark my site. I update several times a month. This is Emma AKA (M. Harris) signing off and exploring new news about archaeology, art, languages, legends and much more from the real world and the world of Tomb Raider and Lady Lara Croft! Explore the World!

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