Wednesday, 7 August 2013

Summer on Skye: Outer Hebrides - Lewis {Part 1: Stone & Rock}

From Harris we moved on northwards to Lewis, they are essentially one big island but are really different, Harris is rocky and mountainous and Lewis is more wild open moorland. On Lewis we headed straight away to the amazing standing stones of Callanish, one of the biggest stone circles in the UK and only second to Stonehenge in terms of archaeological importance. We visited them about 12 years ago, so it was great to see them again. . . 

 The stones are situated near a loch and rolling hills {which are said to look like a woman lying down} made of Lewisian Gneiss {pronounced 'nice'} and look a lot like a group of people, with different characters and pasts. You can walk all around the stones {unlike stonehenge!} and we had it mainly to ourselves while we were there which made it even more special.

 There's something so magical and powerful about standing stone circles, you feel the enormous effort of the people who dragged them and put them up, when their day-to-day lives were such a basic struggle to survive in such a harsh landscape already. There's such a natural energy coursing through them, and the faith in and need to erect these stones must have been so great for whatever reason they were put here. Nobody really knows why and it's kind of nice that way, the stones are the only ones who know and will still be keeping their secrets long after we're gone! I like to think that they were community meeting places to mark the big events in life as well as giving them spiritual guidance and helping them get through everyday life.

See this great info page about the stones for loads more info and great pictures of the site.

The stones are formed around a neolithic burial chamber in the main circle with 2 avenues extending through the middle of it to form a cross. They were built around 3000 BC and as well as this main stone circle there are over a dozen other linked standing stone sites around Callanish, see here and here for more info. 

A few of the stones had roses at their bases when we were there, this was because the Summer Soltice had just been a couple of days earlier and there were big celebratory events as well as the BBC filming 'Midsummer Live'.  It's such a humbling place of living history, mystery and energy that I love and no doubt I'll be back!

Just on the road outside the Stones, we saw these cute little piggies oblivious to the stone circle and just loving life!

Then we set off to the 'capital'and main town and harbor of Lewis - Stornoway. After travelling a bit we spotted a sign for Dun Carloway Broch and decided to check it out:-

 Dun Carloway is one of the most well preserved brochs in Scotland and is thought to have been built around the First Century BC.
A broch can be described as being  a 'castle' of the Iron Age.
It had at least two floors with staircases up either side (one which you could climb) and smaller room chambers off a central large room.
View of the inside of the brooch from the top of the accessible staircase.

 You can see how the Broch was constructed for defence and perhaps warmth, having 2 wall layers.

 Nature and beauty pushes through and makes its mark

 It's amazing to think of this being created over 2000 years ago and used ever since. It holds so many stories and peoples lives and deaths within its walls, so much history yet still making more . . .

We saw quite a lot of amazing things on Lewis so you'll have to wait for part two which features Stornoway, Uig Beach and the Chessmen!


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