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I want to see the Standing Stones of Calanais

Updated on March 7, 2015

I must go to Lewis in the Outer Hebrides

When Standing Stones are mentioned, it's the great majesty of Stonehenge that comes to mind, not a wind-scoured island at the northwest edge of Europe

I want to go to the chain of the Outer Hebrides, once an integral part of the Viking world and ruled by the Lordship of the Isles.

I want to see all the windy, rocky places, full of peatmoss and mystery.

I want to visit the misty Isle of Lewis, and see the Standing Stones of Calanais.

The Calanais or Callanish Stones

Biting deeply into the north west coast of Lewis is Loch Roag, whose eastern shore is home to the small linear settlement of Calanais.

There, on a hump of land between the village and its jetty, are the Calanais (or Callanish) Standing Stones. I want to see them.

I want to see them from a boat, as Diodorus Siculus did in 55 BCE.

Calanais Stones from the air

The Stones stand in a skewed cruciform shape, 53 pale grey stones of Lewisian gneiss, with at the heart a central circle of 13 tall stones.

From the centre, four limbs run out in line with the cardinal points of the compass

Buried in the Peat Bog

A local legend relates how the stone ring of Calanais was found many hundreds of years ago by a farmer looking for large rocks to build a wall.

Wandering across the desolate wind-swept moors of the Isle of Lewis, the farmer came upon a single large stone jutting from the ground.

With the intention of removing the stone, the farmer began to dig for its base.

As he dug deeper into the earth, other stones began to appear until finally he had brought to light the ancient ring of Calanais.

Climate change around 1000 BCE led to the formation of the blanket bogs which covered the stones.

Legends and Folk Memories

The stones are known as 'Fir Bhreig' meaning the false men, they may have been seen as petrified people in the distant past. Legend suggests the stones were giants, turned to stone by St Kieran when they would not convert to Christianity.

The stones were also said to have a spectral visitation on the dawn of the Midsummer Solstice. A shining figure is said to walk down Northern avenue heralded by the call of a Cuckoo. This may be a folk memory of astronomical alignments or seasonal ritual at the site.

The Moon and the Stones

Music of the Stones

Standing Stones of Callanish
Standing Stones of Callanish

Gentle Celtic-influence music to convey the mystery and magic of the Stones.

Perfect for relaxing and for moments of meditation


Mountains divide us ..

Mountains divide us, and a waste of seas; yet

Still the blood is strong; the heart is Highland

And we in dreams behold the Hebrides

I dream of the islands, and of the Standing Stones of Calanais.

How about you?

Have you seen any Standing Stones?

See results

© 2010 Susanna Duffy

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    • Virginia Allain profile image

      Virginia Allain 

      5 years ago from Central Florida

      What a marvelous place. Sure would be great to see it.

    • profile image


      5 years ago

      I've been to see the Callanish stones a couple of times now and they are absolutely awe inspiring.

      It truly is a spiritual place.

      I get a weird feeling near the centre - as if we shouldn't be there, almost as if it's hallowed ground.

      Outside the circle I get the feeling of belonging - maybe I was there in a previous life hundreds of years ago!

    • Steph Tietjen profile image

      Stephanie Tietjen 

      6 years ago from Albuquerque, New Mexico

      I made a miniature standing stones arrangement in my garden, but I'd love to see these and Stonehenge. I wonder what secret wonders are still buried in the earth.

    • WriterJanis2 profile image


      6 years ago

      These would be very interesting to visit.

    • profile image


      6 years ago

      You will love the Hebrides.

    • LiteraryMind profile image

      Ellen Gregory 

      7 years ago from Connecticut, USA

      I never knew these existed. You are correct, I have only heard of Stonehenge. Very interesting lens

    • jmsp206 profile image

      Julia M S Pearce 

      8 years ago from Melbourne, Australia

      These stones are so interesting.A Magic place.

    • giacombs-ramirez profile image

      gia combs-ramirez 

      8 years ago from Montana

      I've always wanted to take a trip to the British Isles and visit different stone sites...and crop circles, too! Blessed by an angel.


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