An Ancient Observatory?
No one truly knows why the stones were built, but many historians and scientists believe the most probable reason is that the stones are an ancient type of astronomical observatory.
Archaeological research over a number of generations has uncovered that the stones appear to be aligned with movements of the solar system. The stones are positioned to align with the path of the sun and the moon at different points in the solar circle. It seems too much of an incredible coincidence that it wasn’t the intention of the ancient people of Scotland.
Celebrating the Summer Solstice
The longest day of the year, or the summer solstice, occurs once a year around 21st June. People all over the UK celebrate the longest day at landmarks throughout Britain including, most famously, Stonehenge. Here in Scotland the Callanish Stones is the ideal place to enjoy the longest day and watch the sun both set and rise within a few short hours.
The word ‘solstice’ comes from the Latin word ‘solstitum,’ which translates to the ‘sun standing still.’ On the longest day the sun stops moving northward and it signals that each day will shorten in increments.
Historically pagans celebrated the summer solstice as they believed it was the day where the veil between our world and the next one was at its most fragile and the fairies magic was believed to be at their most powerful.
Some Quirky Folklore
Since the erection of the circle stone thousands of years ago the human race has advanced at an accelerated rate but there’s one thing that hasn’t really changed: our capacity for imagination.
- One early story was that the standing stones were living Giants that once walked among the earth, but they were petrified by St Kieran who thought them to be evil spirits when they refused to convert to Christianity.
- In the 17th century islanders on Lewis would refer to the stones in Gaelic as ‘fir bhreige,’ which translates to false men.
- Another tale tells of a glowing entity, known as the ‘Shining One’, walking the northern avenue stones early midsummer morning, his arrival signalled by the call of a cuckoo.
- Another legend states that the stones were once buried deep beneath the earth and were uncovered by a very determined and strong farmer who was out looking for rocks to build a wall.
Visit the Callanish Standing Stones
Marvelling at the stunning pictures of the Callanish Standing Stones is one thing, but actually visiting the ancient site and exploring the area for yourself is an incredible feeling that cannot be beaten by any other means. Another ancient building nearby is the massive Iron Age round house known as Dun Carloway. Our guides know the area well and can take you on excellent hikes that combine coastal walks with visits to these incredible sites.
We offer a number of incredible adventure holidays that include a visit the Standing Stones of Callanish:
- Perfect for those looking for an easy walk and hike: Wilderness Walking Outer Hebrides and Skye
- Combine history with beautiful wildlife on our Outer Hebrides and St Kilda Wildlife Adventure
- Our Mountain Biking Hebridean Trail is great for those seeking a more adrenaline fuelled adventure before visiting the Standing Stones
- Enjoy cycling along the amazingly isolated roads on our Road Cycling Outer Hebrides trip
Explore Callanais Standing Stones in 360 Degrees
The immersion below gives the stones a true sense of scale, with the main collection immediately visible but if you scroll left you’ll see a long corridor of stone leading up to the main set, which form a cruciform shape. The vibrant colours in this 360 are due to a recent rain shower that’s passed by and the evening midsummer sun has burst out again, leading to nice warm colours.