Callanish The White

On the Isle of Lewis in the Outer Hebrides, in the Northwest of Scotland, there are a number of stone circles, all located near Loch Roag. The best known is at Callanish (Figure 6.24).

It consists of a ring of stones from which an avenue, defined by flanking stones, extends 82 m to the NNE. The stones are angular with their wider sides facing the avenue, except for the outer two, which face the visitor as if they were guard stones. The features of the site are shown in Figure 6.25.

Shorter lines of stones emerge to the east and (in the same line) to the west, as well as to the south. The avenue stones are along bearings 190.6° and 189.2° on the west and east sides, respectively (Thom 1971/1973/1978, p. 68). Burl (1993, pp. 61, 57) points out that the stones on the east side of the avenue are consistently about 3/4 as high as are the stones on the west side. This feature is characteristic of northern Irish avenues and double rows and of those on the Crozon peninsula in far western Brittany. Sometimes, the kinds of stones used were different as well. If there is any historical connection among these locations, it is probably due to their

14 The other coves are located at Stanton Drew in Somerset (where it lies WSW of the main circle) and faces roughly south, at Cairnpapple in West Lothian and faces east, and at Avebury, where it faces NE.

Figure 6.24. View from the NNE avenue of the cruciform monument of Callanish on the Isle of Lewis in the Outer Hebrides. Photo by Sharan Hanna.

mutual accessibility by water. The cruciform shape of the Callanish complex is striking, and its location on a hill on a promontory makes it prominently visible at sea. Within the circle and in contact with its east wall is a smaller circle of predominantly smaller stones about a mound in which there is a passage grave with opening to the east. The tomb postdates the circle, and its kerbstones are still later additions. The astronomical implications of the site have been examined by Somerville (1912b, p. 83), Hawkins (1966, p. 186), Thom (1967, p. 122; 1971/1973/1978, pp. 68-69), Hadingham (1976, especially pp. 101-106), Gerald and Margaret Ponting (1982, 1984a,b), M. Ponting (1988), and Burl (1976, pp. 148-155; 1993, pp. 14-16, 59-61, 63-65, 178-180). Thom's

Figure 6.25. Features of the Callan-ish site. Drawing by Sharon Hanna.

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