Callanish Stones, Isle of Lewis

Dating from 2900-2600 BC, the Callanish Stones (Gaelic: Clachan Chalanais or Tursachan Chalanais) on the Isle of Lewis consist of a large stone circle surrounding a burial chamber and four avenues of stones leading away from the site on four sides.

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History of Callanish Stones

The stone circle and alignments at Callanish were built shortly after 3000 BC, with a burial chamber added to the center a few generations later.

What to See at Callanish Stones

The atmospheric setting and pale silvery stones of Callanish have made the site an icon of ancient Scotland, inspiring generations of artists, poets and photographers - as well as the average visitor - with its ethereal beauty. (Note that they appear on most of the book covers shown at left.)

Situated on a natural ridge that has a north-south orientation, the Callanish monument consists of a central circle of 13 stones from which four alignments extend to form a general cross shape. The northern alignment is longer than the rest and a double rows, forming an avenue.

Although the alignments are constructed roughly in the cardinal directions, this may only be an accident of the north-south ridge on which the monument is built. However, the Callanish stones may have been used to observe the movements of the moon. Every 18.6 years, the moon seems to skim along the hills to the south.

Within the central circle is a burial chamber, which excavations have shown were added a few generations after the stones. Its entrance passage is oriented east and marked by an exceptionally tall stone of 4.75m high within the circle.

There are several smaller monuments near Callanish as well, including Cnoc Ceann a'Gharraidh, a circle of eight stones (three of them fallen), and Cnoc Fillibhir Bheag, a double circle with eight stones in the outer ring and four in the inner ring.

Quick Facts on Callanish Stones

Site Information
Names:Callanish I · Callanish Stones · Clachan Chalanais · Tursachan Chalanais
Country:Scotland
Categories:megalithic monuments; stone circles
Dates:2900-2600 BC
Status: ruins
Visitor and Contact Information
Coordinates:58.197573° N, 6.745139° W
Address:Isle of Lewis, Scotland
Hours:Apr-Sept: daily 10am-6pm
Oct-Mar: daily 10am-4pm
Lodging:View hotels near Callanish Stones
Note: This information was accurate when first published and we do our best to keep it updated, but details such as opening hours and prices can change without notice. To avoid disappointment, please check with the site directly before making a special trip.

References

  1. Anna and Graham Ritchie, Scotland: An Oxford Archaeological Guide (Oxford University Press, 1998), 225-26.
  2. Callanish Standing Stones Property Detail - Historic Scotland
  3. The Stone Ring of Callanish - SacredSites.com

More Information

© Colin Campbell
© Martin Gray
© Bob Shand
© Gareth Harper

Map of Callanish Stones, Isle of Lewis

Below is a location map and aerial view of Callanish Stones. Using the buttons on the left (or the wheel on your mouse), you can zoom in for a closer look, or zoom out to get your bearings. To move around, click and drag the map with your mouse.