Daily Archives: November 11, 2022

The false men of Callanish

The sun finally showed up to reveal a beautiful parkup by the water. I don’t know how she does it night after night, but she does it.

Marce’s Ordinance Survey Map shows every bump or feature on the land in the UK and it swears there’s some nineteen or so Megalithic sites in what would have to be a very successful fertile valley. These folks must have been well fed with a lot of free time, organized enough to find and quarry large slabs of stone, strong enough to schlep them to the designated spot — you can just imagine the arguments — then solidly erect tons of them. We’re very near one of the sites right now but you couldn’t prove it by me. A few miles across the loch there’s supposedly a massive circle and that’s where we’re headed this morning.

Turns out the parking lot is already filling up and I can’t help but notice a bus parked near the visitor center. There’s a gaggle of passengers politely waiting in a queue for the visitor center to open, probably for that second cup of joe and maybe a T-shirt or a couple of postcards.

Without a word we adroitly swerved around the thrillseekers and headed up the path toward the stone circle of Callanish on top of the hill. What a dramatic presentation as you wind your way up around the hill and begin to see the standing stones with virtually no one else there. I’m filled with awe and wonder at the mystery of it all. It takes your breath away.

At first it’s hard to see a design to the layout but it’s described as cruciform and it’s thought to be over 5,000 years old, the oldest in the UK.

A chambered cairn is at the center with a tight circle of 4.5m standing stones each weighing over 5 tons.

Each stone seems to take on an interesting character of its own. Was it originally chosen for its shape or color? Some seem to look like old twisted wooden tree trunks or thin warped boards. Did the passing centuries of nasty weather imbue each stone with its own character? I’ve seen some pretty amazing looking standing stones and wouldn’t it be a human trait to choose the most interesting? I guess we’ll never know.

Avenues radiate out from the center circle and as you walk through suddenly a whole row of stones will line up seemingly out of nowhere.

You are looking at 50 large standing stones.

These standing stones have been battered by Outer Hebrides wind and storms for over 5,000 years.

Local lore calls the stones “false men” probably due to later Pictish Christian influences that claim if a person refuses to convert to Christianity they turn to stone. I don’t know but it sounds biblical to me.

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