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Callanish (Calanais) Standing Stones by Colin Metcalf

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Taken with Kodak Eastshare CX7530
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At 09/01/11 126 Views

The Callanish Stones (or “Callanish I”), Clachan Chalanais or Tursachan Chalanais in Gaelic, are situated near the village of Callanish (Gaelic: Calanais) on the west coast of the isle of Lewis, in the Outer Hebrides (Western Isles), Scotland.

Construction of the site took place between 2900 and 2600 BC, though there were possibly earlier buildings before 3000 BC. A tomb was later built into the site. Debris from the destruction of the tomb suggests the site was out of use between 2000 BC and 1700 BC.1 The 13 primary stones form a circle about 13 m in diameter, with a long approach avenue of stones to the north, and shorter stone rows to the east, south, and west (possibly incomplete avenues). The overall layout of the monument recalls a distorted Celtic cross. The individual stones vary from around 1 m to 5 m in height, with an average of 4 m, and are of the local Lewisian gneiss.


The first written reference to the stones was by Lewis native John Morisone, who in c. 1680 wrote that “great stones standing up in ranks […] were sett up in place for devotione”.

The tallest of the stones marks the entrance to a burial cairn where human remains have been discovered. An excavation campaign in 1980 and 1981 showed that the burial chamber was a late addition to the site, and that it had been modified a number of times. Pottery finds suggested a date of 2200 BC for the erection of the circle. It has been speculated, among other theories, that the stones form a calendar system based on the position of the moon. Professor Alexander Thom suggested that the alignment of the stone avenue (when looking southward) pointed to the setting of midsummer full moon behind a distant mountain called Clisham.

Critics of these theories argue that several alignments are likely to exist purely by chance in any such structure. In addition many factors such as the weathering and displacement of the stones over the millennia mean we can never be certain of any original, possibly intentional, alignments.

The stones in folklore and popular culture.

The Callanish Stones in the early 1980s, as portrayed on the cover of Lament, by Ultravox. Local tradition says that giants who lived on the island refused to be converted to Christianity by Saint Kieran and were turned into stone as a punishment. Another local belief says that at sunrise on midsummer morning, the “shining one” walked along the stone avenue, “his arrival heralded by the cuckoo’s call.” This legend could be a folk memory recalling the astronomical significance of the stones.

In 1984, the new romantic band Ultravox used an image of the stones on the cover of their album Lament. They also used the scenery to record the video of One Small Day, first single taken from that album. In 1988 Jon Mark released a CD, The Standing Stones of Callanish, intended to evoke Britain’s celtic legacy.

Source Wikipedia

Thanks for taking the time to browse my portfolio, I hope you see something you like. Colin.

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  • Colin Metcalf
    Colin Metcalfabout 4 years ago

  • 1stImpressions
    1stImpressionsabout 4 years ago

    one brilliant image…fave

  • Thanks Steve and thanks for the fave!!

    – Colin Metcalf

  • sarnia2
    sarnia2about 4 years ago

  • Thanks a lot!

    – Colin Metcalf

  • Audrey Clarke
    Audrey Clarkeabout 4 years ago

  • Thanks!

    – Colin Metcalf

  • AndyReeve
    AndyReeveabout 4 years ago

    Living in Cornwall I am really into stone circle. Great shot.

  • Thanks a lot Andy appreciated!

    – Colin Metcalf

  • Julesrules
    Julesrulesabout 4 years ago

    Great POV on this Colin:-) One of my fave subjects!

  • thanks a lot Jules apprerciated as always!

    – Colin Metcalf

  • JacquiK
    JacquiKabout 4 years ago

    Great shot Colin.

  • Thanks a bundle Jacqui!

    – Colin Metcalf

  • Odille Esmonde-Morgan
    Odille Esmonde...about 4 years ago

    Beautiful shot – and very timely, I have just been reading William Horwood’s novel “Callanish” about the golden eagles. It has an ‘eagle legend’ of the creation of the stones

  • Thank you so much for the lovely comment. I have not heard of that book I will look out for it!

    – Colin Metcalf

  • Redviolin
    Redviolinabout 4 years ago

    Great shot…very interesting….I have celtic ancestry.

  • Thanks for looking Christine glad you found it of interest!

    – Colin Metcalf

  • Lynn  Gibbons
    Lynn Gibbonsabout 4 years ago

    Another instant favorite

  • Many many thanks Lynn for another fave!

    – Colin Metcalf

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