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Callanish Stone Circles   (1-8)

Isle of Lewis, Scotland

Callanish (Scottish Gaelic: Calanais) is a village on the West Side of the Isle of Lewis, in the Outer Hebrides (Western Isles), Scotland. A linear settlement with a jetty, it is situated on a headland jutting into Loch Roag, a sea loch. It lies 13 miles west of Stornoway.

There is a modern visitor centre which provides information about the main circle and several other lesser monuments nearby.

A long way for most of us to go, but quite a lot and some spectacular scenery to see when you get there.

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Callanish Stones, a cross-shaped setting of standing stones erected around 2000BC, one of the most spectacular megalithic monuments in Scotland.

Calanais I is almost always a confusing jumble of megaliths when seen in photographs, as it is difficult to distinguish between stones that make up the circle, those that make up the main avenue, and those that are part of the other rows.

In reality it is a truly stunning and beautiful monument - but perhaps still a jumble of megaliths.


  See here for Picture Details

Excavations have shown that the area was farmed more than 5000 years ago. Around 3000BC the stone ring was set up and the central megalith erected. Sometime later a chambered cairn was constructed between this monolith and the east side of the ring. Sometime in the next two thousand years, stone rows were added to the south, east and west, and a long avenue to the north. The whole site was abandoned around 800BC and gradually began to disappear beneath the peat.

The horizon to the southeast forms a silhouette like a person lying on their back, known sometimes as the "Sleeping Beauty" or "Cailleach na Mointeach" (The Old Woman of the Moors).

The Callanish II is an elliptical ring of five stones with a major axis of about 21 metres and a minor axis of about 19 metres. Originally there were a total of 10 stones in the ellipse with an 11th outlier. A cairn, eight and a half metres in diameter, was built in the circle a little to the east of centre.  Located a few hundred metres from Calanais I. The tallest stone is nearly three and a half metres in height.

Post hole evidence suggests that there was an earlier timber structure on the same site, about 10 metres in diameter.

Clannish III (this picture) is a complex setting of 17 stones  described as a double ellipse or in some cases as two concentric circles with an inner cove.

Another account describes it as, "This has been interpreted as an outer ring with an inner ring, quadrangle or cove; a complex double ellipse; and as two concentric circles with an inner cove."

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




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Clannish IV is a six-stone elliptical ring on a hilltop to the SSE of Calannish 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. The original circle may have contained thirteen evenly-spaced stones.

Clannish VIII - A semicircular setting of four stones on a cliff edge located where the road bridge joins Great Bernera to Lewis.

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See also

Our section on stone circles

The discussion on the purpose of stone circles

Planning Grid


Callanish, Isle of Lewis, Scotland

Grid Reference


Map Link:


http://www.megalithia.com/callanish/map.html map of area with all sites marked

Getting there:

Callanish is on the Isle of Lewis on the Western Isles of Scotland, about 15 miles from Stornoway.  It would be difficult to try and travel from the mainland, see the major sites and travel back all in one day. Stornoway is the largest settlement and has an airport, and is served by ferries from the mainland. For car drivers the shortest sea crossing can be had from the Isle of Skye which is now joined to the mainland  by a bridge. From Uig on the Isle of Skye you can take a ferry to Tarbert and drive to Callanish.


A range of sites within a 10 mile area.


Parking near to stones



Things To Do, See and Photograph:


What to take:


Nature highlights:


Best Times to Visit:




Isle of Lewis









1- http://www.ancient-scotland.co.uk/site.php?a=38

2 -http://www.ancient-scotland.co.uk/site.php?a=39

3 -http://www.ancient-scotland.co.uk/site.php?a=40

4 -http://www.ancient-scotland.co.uk/site.php?a=41


8 - http://www.ancient-scotland.co.uk/site.php?a=42

Opening times:

Open sites



Photo Restrictions:


Other Restrictions: None known
Special Needs Access:  
Special Needs Facilities:  
Children Facilities:  
Dogs Allowed:  

Other useful websites:


Local community website - www.breasclete.com/

Outer Hebrides http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Western_Isles links to ferries etc


CIN Page Ref:


Date Updated: 02/08

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