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Clach an Trushal The tallest standing stone in Scotland

Posted by [email protected] on January 7, 2017 at 7:20 AM Comments comments (0)

Clach an Trushal is a Scottish Gaelic word often said as Clach an Truiseil, which when translated to English means Stone of Compassion.

Standing as a Guardian 20 miles to the south west from the magnificent stone circle complex of Callanish, this is a must site on any Megalithic Odyssey of the Isle of Lewis and Harris.

Sited in the village of Ballantrushal on the west side of Lewis, this stone has an energetic presence second to none. It is the tallest standing stone in Scotland. Certainly, you feel humble in its presence.

Above ground it stands approximately 5.8 metres -19 ft tall - and is 1.83 metres - 6.0 ft - wide and at its thickest point is 1.5 metres -4.9 ft - thick, with a huge girth at its base of 4.75 metres 15.6 ft..

Local legend says that it marks the site of a great battle, the last to be fought between the feuding clans of the Macaulays and Morrisons.

Yet this stone is actually the solitary surviving stone remaining from a stone circle constructed in the Neolithic period around 5,000 years ago. Occupying a place within the circle, its placement was not central. Sadly, the second last standing stone was removed as late as 1914, and used as a lintel.


 

 

Callanish I - Stone Circle

Posted by edwinswagger on June 17, 2016 at 5:30 AM Comments comments (0)

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58° 11′ 52.44″ N, 6° 44′ 39.48″ W


The Callanish Stones (or "Callanish I", Clachan Chalanais or Tursachan Chalanais in Scottish Gaelic) are an arrangement of standing stones placed in a cruciform pattern with a central stone circle. They were erected in the late Neolithic era, and were a focus for ritual activity during the Bronze Age. They are near the village of Callanish (Gaelic: Calanais) on the west coast of Lewis in the Outer Hebrides, Scotland.


The Callanish Stones (grid reference NB213330) are situated on a low ridge above the waters of Loch Roag with the hills of Great Bernera as a backdrop.

Numerous other ritual sites lie within a few kilometres. These include at least three other circles, several arcs, alignments and single stones; many visible from the main site. The most impressive – Callanish II and Callanish III – lie just over a kilometre southeast of the main Callanish Stones, and originally consisted of circles of stones at least eight in number. The existence of other monuments in the area implies that Callanish was an active focus for prehistoric religious activity for at least 1500 years.


The Callanish Stones consist of a stone circle of thirteen stones with a monolith near the middle. Five rows of standing stones connect to this circle. Two long rows of stones running almost parallel to each other from the stone circle to the north-northeast form a kind of avenue. In addition, there are shorter rows of stones to the west-southwest, south and east-northeast. The stones are all of the same rock type, namely the local Lewisian gneiss. Within the stone circle is a chambered tomb to the east of the central stone.


The central monolith stands 0.8 metres west of the true centre of the stone circle. The stone is 4.8 metres high, 1.5 metres wide and 0.3 metres thick.The largest sides of the stone are almost perfectly oriented to the north and south. The monolith has the shape of a ship's rudder and probably weighs about seven tonnes.

Stone circle

The stone circle consists of thirteen stones and has a diameter of 11.4 metres. The stone circle is not a perfect circle, but is a ring with a flattened east side (13.4 metres north-south by 12 metres east-west). The stones have an average height of three metres. The ring covers an area of 124 square metres. This is quite small compared to similar circles, including the nearby Callanish II which is 2.5 times as large.


The avenue connects to the stone circle from the north-northeast. The avenue is 83.2 metres long. The avenue has 19 stones remaining: nine stones are on the eastern side, ten on the western side. The largest stone is 3.5 metres high and stands on the western end of the row. The two rows are not exactly parallel to each other but fan out: at the north end the rows are 6.7 metres apart, while the distance between the rows is 6 metres at the south end. From the circle the height of the stones decreases towards the middle of the avenue; from there the height increases again. The stones of the eastern side of the avenue have only three-quarters of the height of the stones on the western side.


As well as the two stone rows of the avenue, there are three stone rows connecting to the circle. One comes from the east-northeast, one from the south, and one from the west-southwest. The east-northeast row today consists of five stones and is 23.2 metres long. The southern row consists of five stones and is 27.2 metres long. The west-southwest row consists of four stones and is 13 metres long.

As well as the two stone rows of the avenue, there are three stone rows connecting to the circle. One comes from the east-northeast, one from the south, and one from the west-southwest. The east-northeast row today consists of five stones and is 23.2 metres long. The southern row consists of five stones and is 27.2 metres long. The west-southwest row consists of four stones and is 13 metres long.

None of the stone rows is aimed at the centre of the stone circle. The east-northeast row is aligned to a point 2 metres south of the centre; the south row points to 1 metre west of the centre and the west-southwest row points to 1 metre south of the centre.


 

Chambered tomb

Between the central and the eastern monolith of the stone circle is a chambered tomb 6.4 metres long. This was built later than the stone circle and is squashed in between the eastern stones and the central monolith.

There is another stone cairn just on the northeast side of the stone circle. It has been reduced to ground-level and the outline can barely be traced. It is not necessarily an original part of the site.


The Sleeping Beauty, also known as the 'Cailleach Na Mointeach' or 'Old woman of the moors' is a spectacular skyline of a woman's prone form seen to the north east from the standing stones of Callanish. Moonrise at the time of the 18.6 year Lunar standstill aligns significantly[clarification needed] with this landscape.

Archaeology and dating

 

A distant view of the circle, stone rows and part of the northern avenue

There were limited excavations in 1980-1 which provided some information on the development of the site. The first traces of human activity are indicated by a broad ditch (no longer visible above ground) which appears to have belonged to some structure or enclosure. This may have been ritual, but could instead have been domestic. In the centuries around 3000 BC, however, the site was turned over to agriculture which obliterated most of the earlier traces. After this, the site was allowed to grass over for a time.

The stone circle was set up between 2900 and 2600 BC. It is not clear whether the stone alignments were constructed at the same time as the circle, or later. Some time after the erection of the stones, a small chambered tomb was inserted into the eastern part of the stone circle. The many pottery fragments found indicate that the tomb was used for several centuries. These pottery fragments included not only the local Hebridean pots, but numerous sherds of beaker vessels (dating to around 2000-1700 BC) and sherds of grooved ware.

Around 1500-1000 BC the complex fell out of use and was despoiled by the later Bronze Age farmers. Fragments of pots appear to have been cast out of the chamber. This may have been just ordinary agriculture, but it may conceivably have been ritual cleansing. There appears to have been a later rebuilding of the tomb, but this may have been for domestic use as there is no evidence for any later ritual use of the monument. Between 1000 BC and 500 BC the stones were covered by a thick layer of turf. It is estimated that the place was abandoned around 800 BC. Only in 1857 was the overlying 1.5 metres of peat removed.

Later history

The first written reference to the stones was by Lewis native John Morisone, who around 1680 wrote that the stones were men "converted into stone by ane Inchanter" and set up in a ring "for devotione". Sometime around 1695 Martin Martin visited the site and was told by the local people that "it was a place appointed for worship in the time of heathenism, and that the chief druid or priest stood near the big stone in the centre, from whence he addressed himself to the people that surrounded him." In his 1726 work on the druids, John Toland specifically identified Diodorus Siculus' Hyperborea with Lewis, and the "spherical temple" mentioned by Diodorus with the Callanish Stones. In 1743, William Stukeley described the stone circle as a druid circle and the avenue like a serpent. In 1819, geologist John MacCulloch published the first accurate description. In 1846, the Danish historian J. J. A. Worsaae made a sketch and plan of the Callanish Stones.

In 1857 peat to a depth of five feet (1.5 metres) was cleared away, under the orders of the proprietor of Lewis, James Matheson, revealing the chambered tomb and the true height of the stones. In 1885 the Callanish Stones were taken into state care.





Achmore Stone Circle

Posted by edwinswagger on June 16, 2016 at 3:50 PM Comments comments (0)

 

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58° 10′ 19.2″ N, 6° 34′ 22.8″ W

Achmore is probably not the reason why you'd go to Lewis. Fallen stones in a peat bog on a featureless wet hillside - possibly not going to get the blood pumping through your veins.

 

In the early 1980s it was thought likely that there was a megalith here - a stone was just peeping through the surface of the peat. And as the peat cutters made their way across the land, a passing archaeologist (Margaret Curtis - then Margaret Ponting) noticed from her bus journey that several stones were appearing.

 

By the mid 1990s, peat cutting had revealed the extent of the entire circle. And, sadly, allowed several of the stones that were supported by the peat to fall.

 

The circle is a little over 40 metres (about 135 feet) in diameter and there were probably twenty two stones up to two metres (6 feet) tall. Now there are two stones still upright, two stumps are still in the socket with the bulk of the stone broken and fallen, 12 others fallen from their sockets, three sockets with the megaliths missing, and gaps where three are assumed to have been.



 

One can't help but wonder what is still hidden under the peat of Lewis.

The remains of a fallen ancient stone circle lie close to the village. It was located to link rare risings and settings of the moon and the sun with a hill range looking like a sleeping (and, only from the Achmore stone circle, pregnant) woman, called "Sleeping Beauty". The circle was discovered in 1981 and measures 41 metres across. The circle was built around 3000 BC and probably consisted of 22 slabs up to two metres tall, two of which remain standing.

Callanish IV - Stone Circle

Posted by edwinswagger on June 16, 2016 at 3:40 PM Comments comments (0)

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58° 10′ 31″ N, 6° 42′ 47″ W

The Callanish IV stone circle (Scottish Gaelic: Ceann Hulavig[1]) is one of many megalithic structures around the better-known (and larger) Calanais I on the west coast of the isle of Lewis, in the Outer Hebrides (Western Isles), Scotland.

Callanish IV is around two miles southeast of the Callanish Stones, about 180 metres west of the unfenced B8011 road.

The stone circle forms a pronounced oval measuring 13.3 by 9.5 metres. Only five stones currently stand, but there could have been as many as thirteen. The stones range in size from 2 to 2.7 metres.

In the centre is a dilapidated cairn. A small slab, 60 centimetres high, is set on edge within the cairn.

 

Also known as Ceann Hulavig; Callanish IV;

A six-stone elliptical ring on a hilltop to the SSE of Calanais I across Loch Ceann Hulavig. It is an ellipse, about nine and a half by thirteen and a half metres. The remains of a small cairn (about two metres in diameter) stands within the circle. It is uncertain, but the original circle may have contained thirteen evenly-spaced stones.

 

Given the number of outstanding stone circles and historic sites in this area, you might be tempted to give this small and simple site a miss. In my opinion, that would be a mistake. It may be simple, but the location has a beauty all of its own; I think Calanais IV is a very special place.



Callanish III - Stone Circle

Posted by edwinswagger on June 16, 2016 at 3:35 PM Comments comments (0)

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58° 11′ 44″ N, 6° 43′ 27″ W

The Callanish III stone circle (Scottish Gaelic: Cnoc Fillibhir Bheag) is one of many megalithic structures around the better-known (and larger) Calanais I on the west coast of the isle of Lewis, in the Outer Hebrides, Scotland.

The stone circle consists of two concentric ellipses. The outer ring measures about 13.7 by 13.1 metres. It contains 13 stones, of which eight are still standing and five have fallen. The inner ring is a pronounced oval measuring 10.5 by 6.6 metres. Only four stones remain in the inner circle, the tallest of which measures 2.1 metres. There is no sign of a central mound or cairn.

It is just a few hundred metres from the Callanish II stone circle.


Callanish II - Stone Circle

Posted by edwinswagger on June 16, 2016 at 3:25 PM Comments comments (0)

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58° 11′ 40″ N, 6° 43′ 44″ W

The Callanish II stone circle (Scottish Gaelic: Cnoc Ceann a' Gharaidh) is one of many megalithic structures around the better-known (and larger) Calanais I on the west coast of the isle of Lewis, in the Outer Hebrides, Scotland.

Callanish II is situated on a ridge just 90 metres from the waters of Loch Roag. It is just a few hundred metres from the Callanish III stone circle.

The stone circle consists of thin standing stones arranged in the shape of an ellipse measuring 21.6 by 18.9 metres. Five of the stones are standing and two have fallen. The stones vary from 2 to 3.3 metres in height.[1] A slab, 1.4 metres, long lies in front of the western stone, pointing towards the centre of the circle. The stone circle surrounds a cairn with a diameter of 8.5 metres.

When 3 feet (1 metre) of peat was removed from the site in 1848, four holes were noticed, three grouped in an arc at the northwest, a fourth at the south-west. Wood charcoal found in them suggests that they formed an earlier timber circle about 10 metres in diameter.

 

An eliptical setting (about twenty-one metres by ninteen metres) of five large stones just a few hundred metres from Calanais I. The tallest stone is nearly three and a half metres in height.

 

Originally this was a ring of ten stones with an eleventh outlier. A cairn, eight and a half metres in diameter, was built in the circle a little to the east of centre.

 

Post-hole evidence suggests that, before the stones were erected, there was a timber circle on this site; this would have been about ten metres in diameter.




Callanish VIII - Stone Circle

Posted by edwinswagger on June 16, 2016 at 3:20 PM Comments comments (0)

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58° 12′ 21″ N, 6° 49′ 47″ W

 

The Callanish VIII stone setting is one of many megalithic structures around the better-known (and larger) Calanais I on the west coast of the isle of Lewis, in the Outer Hebrides (Western Isles), Scotland. It is also known locally as Tursachan.[1]

This is a very unusual (and possibly unique) setting, with a semicircle of four large stones on the edge of a cliff on the south of the island of Great Bernera and looking across a narrow strait to Lewis. There is no evidence that the cliff has collapsed here and destroyed half of a complete circle - it would appear that a semicircle was the original intention. The tallest stone is nearly three metres high and the cliff-edge axis of the circle gives a diameter of about 20 metres.

 

Also known as Cleitir; Callanish VIII

Where the road bridge joins Great Bernera to Lewis there is a very odd site. A semicircular setting of four stones on a cliff edge.

 

As with so many of the stone circles on Lewis and the surrounding islands, the rock textures are fabulous. The views can be amazing. And you can experience all the weather you need! A unique site, and very much worth the visit.




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