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Historic Sites in Scotland: The Callanish Standing Stones

Updated on June 16, 2012
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About the Stones

The Callanish Stones which are to be found on the Isle of Lewis in the Outer Hebrides, off the west coast of Scotland, consist of a large stone circle, in the center of which is a burial chamber. The site was built somewhere between 2900 BC and 2600 BC. There are 13 primary stones which form a circle. There are four avenues of stones leading off to the north, south, east and west. They are of a type of stone found locally on the Isle of Lewis and are of varying heights.

There is a visitor centre on the site which features a cafe and gift shop, where you can find out more about the stones and other archaeological sites in the local area.


Folklore and the Callanish Stones

As with many sites which feature standing stones, there are several legends associated with the site. According to local tradition, the stones are actually giants who lived on the island at the time when the various peoples of Britain were being converted to Christianity. The giants refused to convert and were turned to stone by St Kieran as a punishment.

Another story is that at the dawning of the summer solstice, a shining figure walks down the northern avenue, his arrival announced by the call of the cuckoo. It is believed that this tale is the result of a folk legend being passed down through time which either recalls an ancient ritual or relates to the astronomical alignment of the site.



Isle of Lewis, highlighted in red.
Isle of Lewis, highlighted in red. | Source

The Isle of Lewis

The Isle of Lewis is the most northerly of the Hebridean islands which are located off the west coast of Scotland. Scottish Gaelic is spoken alongside English on the island which has a rich cultural heritage. It's a place that would involve a special trip as it's not exactly on a main route. You can get to Lewis from the mainland, either by plane or ferry. On Sundays, most commercial activity on the island shuts down and transport options are limited due to religious observance. That said, the island is a very welcoming place for visitors and it is incredibly peaceful on a Sunday if you want do some relatively undisturbed sightseeing around the island or to check out its beautiful beaches.

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  • Sonya L Morley profile image

    Sonya L Morley 5 years ago from Edinburgh

    I love the Western Isles but have not yet visited these standing stones, definately worth a visit. Great hub.

  • Arren123 profile image

    Arren123 5 years ago from UK

    I love the western part of Scotland and have been to the Outer Hebrides 3 times over the years and had wonderful weather on each visit. Made me want to visit again now I've read your Hub,thank you, voted up :)

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