Callanais standing stones, Isle of Lewis, Hebrides, Scotland.
These megaliths have stood for the best part of 5000 years. There are a total of 46 stones arranged in pattern resembling a cruciform, but the alignments are not consistent and don’t all point to the central stone, an impressive five metre high, eight tonne monoltih. The stones fell out of use in the Bronze Age and were turfed over. Their true height an number were only revealed in 1857 when 1.5 metres of peat was removed.
When you walk amongst the stones, on the edge of the present day village of Callanish, you begin to appreciate the location. Elevated over the natural harbour that is Loch Roag, with splendid views to the mountains of Harris and the isle of Great Bernera, home to a large Neolithic community.
The stone circle was used for hundreds of years and the complex extended in multiple phases. It remains unclear why the stones were erected. There is some alignment to the phases of the moon, but this may be a coincidence. The circle was home to a burial cairn, but this is in a later phase of use. Whether they represented ancestors, were a place of ritual or were an observatory, the stones certainly would have been an enormous undertaking that would have galvanised and provided an identity for a community for centuries. The stones are a popular attraction today and there are several other impressive circles within close walking distance.
October 13th, 2018
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