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Callanish Standing Stones


A historical perspective, drawn from the Ordnance Gazetteer of Scotland: A Survey of Scottish Topography, Statistical, Biographical and Historical, edited by Francis H. Groome and originally published in parts by Thomas C. Jack, Grange Publishing Works, Edinburgh between 1882 and 1885.

This edition is copyright © The Editors of the Gazetteer for Scotland, 2002-2016.

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Callernish, a village and a district of Uig parish, Lewis, Outer Hebrides, Ross-shire, on the E coast of Loch Roag, 16 miles W of Stornoway. In the Builder of 12 June 1873, Mr Jas. Kerr of Edinburgh described a neighbouring ` cruciform sun-temple:, ` A bed of peat moss, 5 feet thick, only recently cleared away by the proprietor, Sir James Matheson, had grown year by year around the base of these standing stones. The only relics found were 2 curious built, sunk, altar chambers on the E side of the great gnomon or centre stone of a circle, having a built drain also from the same flowing towards the E.- The standing stones are not hewn or dressed in any way, but are great upright blocks of gneiss. The dimensions of the gnomon are 161/6 feet high by 4 broad, and 1 foot thick, placed in the centre of a circle, 40 feet in diameter, formed of 12 stones, averaging from 10 to 13 feet high. From this circle a row of stones projects eastward 38 feet, another southward 69 feet, and another westward 43 feet. Then we find the grand meridian avenue from the N, extending in that direction from the circle 270 feet, formed of a double row of standing stones 27 feet apart. Walking up this avenue at 12 o'clock noon, and looking towards the great centre stone while the meridian sun throws his rays right athwart it, one can hardly fail to see the great object for which this rude memorial was erected.'

An accompanying 19th C. Ordnance Survey map is available, or use the map tab to the right of this page.

Note: This text has been made available using a process of scanning and optical character recognition. Despite manual checking, some typographical errors may remain. Please remember this description dates from the 1880s; names may have changed, administrative divisions will certainly be different and there are known to be occasional errors of fact in the original text, which we have not corrected because we wish to maintain its integrity. This information is provided subject to our standard disclaimer

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