The Callanish Standing Stones

The Callanish Standing Stones, also known as Calanais or Callanish I, are a group of megalithic monuments located on the outskirts of Callanish, Isle of Lewis. The site dates back to the Neolithic era, approximately 4,500-5,000 years ago, making it one of the oldest and most important prehistoric sites in the British Isles.

The Callanish complex consists of several structures, the most famous of which is the main circle of 13 standing stones with a central monolith. This circle is surrounded by a series of smaller stone settings, including rows, circles, and solitary stones. The main circle is roughly 13 meters in diameter, and the central monolith stands around 5 meters tall. In total, there are over 50 individual stones in the complex.

The exact purpose of the Callanish Standing Stones remains unknown, but they likely served a combination of religious, astronomical, and social functions. Some theories suggest that the stones were used for rituals or ceremonies, possibly related to the seasons, lunar cycles, or the dead. The stones’ arrangement suggests a possible connection to celestial events, such as the solstices and equinoxes, indicating that the site may have been used as an ancient observatory. However, no definitive evidence has been found to support these theories conclusively.

The stones fell into disuse and were largely forgotten for centuries. Over time, they became buried under peat, which helped preserve them. In the 19th century, the stones were rediscovered, and the peat was removed, revealing the ancient site in its entirety. Since then, the Callanish Standing Stones have become an important archaeological site and a popular tourist attraction.

Today, visitors can explore the site and appreciate the enigmatic beauty of these ancient monuments. The stones remain an enduring symbol of Scotland’s prehistoric past and the rich cultural heritage of the Outer Hebrides.

Calanais (Callanish) Standing Stones

Calais Visitor Centre, Calanais, Isle of Lewis, HS2 9DY
T: 0851 621422