16 Oct 2015

16 Oct 15 - The Callanish Stones

I only briefly touched on the Callanish Stones on Lewis in the Lewis & Harris Post, but aim to rectify that now. Having seen the Callanish Stones on the TV in the past, then I was keen to visit the site while I was on Lewis. The bonus was they were on the West coast route from Stornoway to Leverburgh. I was surprised once I reached the site about how little information there seemed to be available about the history of the Stones. Only now have I realised that within the Visitors Centre, which only seemed to be a cafe & gift shop, that there was also a section on the history of the Stones. So I am a little frustrated to have missed that. Anyway, missing that meant that I went straight to the Stones & found I had them all to myself, as all the other visitors were either in the gift shop or cafe. The next batch of visitors were just arriving as I was leaving. So that worked well. I can't image that ever happens on nice weather at Stonehenge or Avebury.
The Callanish Stones: Looking North at the Stones with the modern village in the background 
The tallest stone is near five metres tall & is part of a stone ring. This stone ring is centred in the middle of a cross with arms that radiate out to the West, South & East. There is a longer stone 'entrance way' over eighty metres heading North. There is a chambered tomb within the centre of the circle. Archaeological digs have established that the Callanish Stones were erected between 4600 & 4900 years ago & a few generations later the stone tomb was added. This means the Stones were erected before the central ring of Stonehenge (about 4150 years ago, although there was a wooden Henge at Stonehenge about 1000 years earlier). When the Callanish Stones were erected, the sea level was lower & the Western Isles were warmer than they are today. Callanish is believed to have been abandoned about 1000 years after erection, as the climate became cooler & wetter: maybe the climate changes affected the beliefs of the locals. Eventually the site was covered in peat & it was only as recent as 1857, when much of the peat was cleared that the full height of the stones became apparent. More information about the Callanish Stones can be found on the Historic Scotland web site.
The Callanish Stones are set on a hill with prominent views over the surrounding countryside: Looking South East towards the visitors centre
The Callanish Stones are on a promontory surrounded by the sea from the West to the East via the South: Looking South West
Looking at the Callanish Stones from the South East
Looking at the Callanish Stones from the South West
Looking at the Callanish Stones from the North West
The left hand entrance stone on the Northern entrance
The right hand entrance stone on the Northern entrance
The central Callanish Stones from halfway along the Northern entrance
The central Callanish Stones from the Eastern side
What was disappointing was to see this local road wind around & right next to the site on two sides: It would be good in time if this road could be covered over & the fences moved further away to provide a more natural site

The texture of the stones was excellent: Much better than a lot of so called modern art
The inner Stone circle
The central burial tomb
This wasn't the only Stone Circle at Callanish: There were two smaller circles known as Callanish II & Callanish III nearby about 1 & 1.5 miles away as the Hooded Crow flies
There was also a stunning garden next to the Stones: Looking at the mature garden from the Callanish III Stones
This was just one small undisturbed corner of the garden: Unfortunately, the owner was working in the garden, but it looked a great place to find a Catharus Thrush. How popular would a garden like this be on Scillies?
Callanish III: These Stones are still in a Cow field & as a result they look more like how they would have originally appeared to the Neolithic peoples who erected them
Callanish III: The Callanish Stones can be distantly seen, just to the left of the main Stone
Callanish III: Looking across to Callanish II