Calanais Standing Stones

Callanish, Isle Of Lewis, Outer Hebrides, HS2 9DY

Type:Monuments & Ruins

Add Calanais Standing Stones to your Itinerary

Product Image

Book Tickets Online

About

A visit to the stones of Calanais is always stunning, and can be quite a different experience at varying times of the year, and in varying light conditions. One of the most remarkable aspects of the site is its relationship to the landscape within which it sits, from its dominating ridge it has uninterrupted views to the distant horizon around 360 degrees. It provides a perfect opportunity to observe the rising and settings of moon and sun and other celestial bodies, and there can be little doubt that this was one of the central functions of Calanais.

It is believed by many that the hills on the southern horizon, known locally as Cailleach na Mòintich (Old woman of the Moors) resembles a recumbent female figure, which may have had great resonance in the minds of early farmers who depended on the fertility of the earth. It is also known that, at this latitude, both the sun and the moon demonstrate wide variance over their cycles. The moon in particular ranges dramatically over an 18.6 year cycle, and the stones may have been partly conceived to take particular notice of this phenomenon. Today again, many people gather at the critical time, hoping to observe the moon rise out of the body of Cailleach na Mòintich, skim low over the horizon, set behind the hill of Cnoc an Tursa, and reappear at the foot of the monolith at the centre of the circle, seeing this is as an ancient manifestation of the idea of "birth, life, death, and rebirth". The last lunar major event was in 2006/7: the next will be 2025.

Even before 1857 when the site was stripped of its overburden of peat, returning the stones to their full Neolithic splendour, Calanais has attracted the attention of visitors and antiquarians. Limited modern excavations have been carried out there since the 1970s, first to understand more fully the meaning and development of the site, and then to locate the settlements and fields of the farming peoples who built the stones and presumably worshipped at them. The story has started to be told, but there is still so much yet to understand.

The standing stones at Calanais are the centrepiece of a ritual landscape filled with other, related stone circles and settings, just as a great cathedral relates to its many smaller churches and chapels. Closest at hand are Calanais II, III and IV.

Awards

  • Other AwardsTripadvisor Certificate of Excellence Tripadvisor Certificate of Excellence 2014

What's Nearby

  1. The Callanish Stones can be found near the village of Callanish in west Lewis just above…

    0.05 miles away

  2.  

     

     

    0.1 miles away
  3. 0.4 miles away
  1. Remains of an oval stone ring with 5 standing stones and at least two fallen ones dating…

    0.65 miles away
  2. An outer ring now with 8 standing stones and 5 fallen ones, with an inner group of 4…

    0.65 miles away

  3.  

     

     

    1.67 miles away
  4. An oval ring now with 5 standing stones, and the remains of a low cairn inside.

    1.92 miles away
  5. Other points of interest on Bernera and the surrounding land include the bridge, standing…

    3.06 miles away
  6. Our largest mammal. Mature males have distinctive antlers.

    3.58 miles away
  7. Large semi-aquatic animal. Very sleek profile in water.

    4.47 miles away
  8. A broch is an iron-aged drystone hollow-walled structure found only in Scotland. Dun…

    5.32 miles away
  9. This is the best preserved and most visited broch in the Outer Hebrides. It occupies a…

    5.32 miles away
  10. Our 1-acre garden, part of Scotland's Gardens Scheme, is open to raise money for charity.…

    6.14 miles away
  11. Tall slim leaves with large bright yellow flower

    6.41 miles away
  12. An Iron Age house which was reconstructed in 1999 following a storm in 1993 which…

    6.42 miles away
  13. Traigh Bhostadh is a sheltered shell sand beach at the north end of Great Bernera. The…

    6.42 miles away
Previous Next

My Planner

You can build your own holiday itinerary here! Just browse our site and click this button to add to your itinerary when you see something you like. If your planner is not finished, simply click save and you can come back to it later on! You also have the option to send your itinerary to our tailor made holiday partner.

Places to Eat

Our Islands