And we’ve finally reached my favourite part of Day 2 of our Compass Buster Tour: The Callanish Standing Stones <3.
After finishing with Dun Carloway Broch, Greg told us we’d finally be making our way to the standing stones! If you’ve been keeping up with the blog, you’ll know that we did come across some standing stones at Blarney Castle in Ireland. Since then, I had been more than a little excited to get to Scotland and see these standing stones up close!
Again, as you may know, we have been searching for Jamie Fraser…yes, yes we tried again here. Obviously and sadly, it didn’t work but it was a lot of fun!
From the moment we stepped out of the bus, I knew this place would be magical! Just look at that view as we approached the site:
It’s not often you get to see a procession of standing stones so greatly preserved!
“The Callanish Stones (“Callanish I”) are an arrangement of standing stones placed in a cruciform pattern with a central stone circle. They were erected in the late Neolithic era.”
They are near the village of Callanish on the west coast of Lewis in the Outer Hebrides of Scotland.
It was a great feat for the people who lived near the site to be able to build it over 4,000 years ago. The stones were supposedly moved with rollers, wooden frames and brute strength. This cost them a lot of time and effort, to be sure!
It is still a mystery as to why these stones were built. This is obviously not the first and only site to have standing stones. During the Neolithic period, many communities across north-west Europe constructed these monuments!
It is most likely they were built for worship or religious reasons. Another common finding is that they may have been built according to astronomical events such as the midwinter sunrise and sunset.
It’s so exciting to still be able to see these standing stones and to speculate as to what the site was constructed for and what the stones mean!
As noted above, this particular site is built in a cruciform pattern. Inside the circle is a stone burial cairn. Supposedly, the cremated bodies were despoiled with pots and beakers which dates to between 2000 to 1700 BC.
“The Callanish Stones consist of a stone circle of thirteen stones with a monolith near the middle. Five rows of standing stones connect to this circle. Two long rows of stones running almost parallel to each other from the stone circle to the north-northeast form a kind of avenue. In addition, there are shorter rows of stones to the west-southwest, south and east-northeast. The stones are all of the same rock type, namely the local Lewisian gneiss. Within the stone circle is a chambered tomb to the east of the central stone.”
Perhaps, the site being used for ritualistic purposes is the most realistic explanation for the stones after all.
Of course between the two of us, our imaginations got away with us again and took us on a hopeful journey towards finding Jamie Fraser. We tried several stones which we thought might work to transport us back in time, but alas, it didn’t exactly work.
Searching for Jamie was getting tiring! We tried several stones that called to us but no Jamie resulted :(.
That being said, it was amazing to be able to touch these stones, which had been erected by people thousands of years ago and it was even more incredible to be able to stand on the same land they had stood on, but for obviously very different reasons!
It was such a pleasant day out and our Irish Rainbow luck still hadn’t evaporated! We took the opportunity to fool around a bit and take some epic photos for our collection :).
Today, the stones, as with Dun Carloway Broch, are managed by Historic Scotland.
Perhaps the Historic Scotland website has the best way to explain the stones:
“This is a story with no ending. Against the backdrop of their 5000 years, the stones have witnessed countless changes in the people and the landscape around them. The story tells about developing landscape, the evolving environment, a land of circles, stones, archaeology and conservation along with many other topics.”
The site was so peaceful, with so very few tourists buzzing about, I am very grateful Greg let us stay and absorb the power of the stones for so long! He basically told us to ponder our lives within these surroundings :P.
And ponder we did. I literally sat there in the quiet landscape listening to the wind and looking at the stones and the sky and the surrounding lochs, not wanting to leave!!!
It’s true when they say Scotland is magical. It’s just a feeling you get when you are out and about viewing the natural and ancient landscape!
We unfortunately had to leave our lovely Callanish I stones and move on to the Callanish II and III, which were not quite as extensive as Callanish I, but made supposedly with the same purpose in mind.
Callanish II and III are located not too far away from the main stones site and comprise of similar stone rings. Callanish II, which was dug out of the peat in 1858, is in the shape of an eclipse, while Callanish III consisted of two concentric eclipses.
It was rather difficult to get to the Callanish III site as it was extremely muddy and not as touristy as the main Callanish site. Nevertheless, we were in Scotland! Which meant we must adventure and explore as much as we could! It was still worth it to get pictures like the ones below!
All in all, this was a definite experience. I don’t want to say once in a lifetime, because I know I will go back again! If you travel to the Outer Hebrides and to the Isle of Lewis, you MUST visit the Callanish Stones. Information on visiting this amazing site can be found here.
This is not a site to be excluded from your Scotland trip! And don’t just spend 5 minutes, take a photograph and leave! Make sure to allot enough time for you to take in the standing stones, explore the area and take some time to reflect and think – as was recommended to us! We think it would be an amazing place to experience a sunrise or a sunset – the rays of light dancing between the stones. Or even to spot the Northern Lights here, with the Callanish stones as a backdrop? Amazing! We’ll definitely have to come back for another visit!
This was one of our favourite sites and is likely to be one of yours as well!!!
We end day 2 with a little evening stroll around Stornoway!
Stay tuned for more on that coming soon!
From Vancouver with Love,
Ioana and Natalie
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