The Callanish Stone Circle

The Callanish standing stones on the Isle of Lewis are a popoular tourist spot.  Over 4000 years ago, the primitive farming community raised these monoliths, quarrying the Lewisian stone and erecting them into the circle and four avenues, of which most still stands today. The main Callanish Stone Circle is older than Stonehenge and is believed to have been built in relation to the moon and the stars . The stones are set in a cross shape with of a central circle of 13 tall stones, the tallest being 4.75 meters tall. There are other standing stone circles and monoliths dotted around the Western Isles, two smaller but significant circles are situated nearby, one in Callanish and the another at Garynahine. Lewisian gneiss rock, is estimated at 2900 million years old, and is some of the oldest volcanic  rock in the world.

The Callanish Stones  stand high upon the ridge that gives an overall view of the surrounding landscape and Loch Roag.   For 5,000 years these stones have stood, against time and weather in testament to the astounding technology and determination of a people who we would deem as been primitive.  These people had a remarkable  understanding of astronomical events and the movement of the moon, not only on a daily, monthly or even yearly cycle but of the events that only come every nine or eighteen years.

The moon was an important calendar in these people’s lives it is believed that they used this and other circles around the island  for celebrating and counting the days for planting and harvesting and giving thanks to  Goddess for each years yield.

The Stones were erected in the view of the Sleeping Beauty, the Earth Mother or if directly translated from the Gaelic "The Old Woman of the Moor", which are the bank of hills that lie in South Lochs. The hills represent a sleeping figure of a woman, which is said, gives birth to the moon every 9 1/2 years.

The great megaliths are the pivot to all the other smaller stone circles and solitary standing stones that are dotted all over the Isle of Lewis.

On dark misty days and the moonless nights the stones seem like transfixed shapes of other worldly form. Giant cowled cailleachs, slightly bending to hear  the heart beat of the earth. In the height of the tourist season thousands of tourist come with their flashing cameras and the stones seem to retreat into themselves, guarding their secrets and mysteries. Whatever the day and whatever the weather, the stones stir the imagination bringing us a breath closer to a different time where the people who had the foresight, determination, love and awe of their world, built something that would last for millennium. We would do well to remember ourselves, in a world that is fast growing with a technology and throw away goods that there are far greater mysteries in the earth than those we plunder for our own profit.

The Callanish Stone circle can be accessed at any time of day or night, throughout the year.

The Callanish Visitor Centre

The cafeteria offers a friendly warm welcome, offering a good variety of home-made fare, including main meals, soup, sandwiches and home baking.The cafeteria has easy access for disabled visitors.

There is a walk -through exhibition which explores how the Standing Stones were built and used and what they have meant to people throughout the centuries.

A gift shop sells the work of the Western Isles local artists, Harris Tweed accessories, music, books, postcards and a wide variety of gifts.

Visitor Centre Opening times:

April to September
Monday to Saturday
10am - 6pm

October to March
Wednesday to Saturday
10am - 4pm

Centrally based for Great days out in Lews and Harris