Callanish Stones

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The stone circle at the centre of the standing stones of Callanish
Callanish stones
A distant view of the circle, stone rows and part of the northern avenue

The Callanish stones [1] are near the village of Callanish (Gaelic: Calanais) on the west coast of Lewis in the Outer Hebrides (Western Isles of Scotland).

Construction and description[change | change source]

The site was built between 2900 and 2600 BC, though there were possibly earlier buildings before 3000 BC. A tomb was later built into the site.[2] The 13 primary stones form a circle about 13 m in diameter, with a long approach avenue of stones to the north, and shorter stone rows to the east, south, and west. The overall layout of the monument recalls a distorted Celtic cross. The individual stones vary from around 1 m to 5 m in height, with an average of 4 m, and are of the local Lewisian gneiss.

Interpretation[change | change source]

The first written reference to the stones was by Lewis native John Morisone, who in c. 1680 wrote that "great stones standing up in ranks [...] were sett up in place for devotione".

The tallest of the stones marks the entrance to a burial cairn where human remains have been discovered. An excavation campaign in 1980 and 1981 showed that the burial chamber was a late addition to the site, and that it had been modified a number of times.

References[change | change source]

  1. Clachan Chalanais or Tursachan Chalanais in Gaelic
  2. Armit, Ian 1996. The Archaeology of Skye and the Western Isles. Edinburgh University Press. ISBN 0748606408