Tuesday, 24 July 2012

CARLOWAY BROCH AND THE CALLANISH STONES

Anyone who loves visiting historic sites should head for the Atlantic coast of the Isle of Lewis. If you have paid a visit to the blackhouses at Arnol and wonder what it would be like to stay in one of them, there is an entire 'village' of blackhouses at Garenin (or Gearrannan) a bit further down the coast serving as holiday accommodation for a truly unique stay on the island with wonderful views out to sea. A short distance away from here is Carloway Broch, an Iron Age fortified tower which, although built 2,000 years ago, still stands proud, the dry-stone walls reaching up to 9 metres in places. Inside the walls are stairs, chambers and galleries.

One of the most haunting sights on the Isle of Lewis is the stone circle known as the Callanish Stones, the island's answer to Stonehenge, where there is a Visitor Centre. The stones, which are located on a hill above East Loch Roag, are around 6 metres high. Made from stone quarried locally, they were put up around 4,000 years ago roughly in the shape of a Celtic cross, with a cairn in the centre. Like Stonehenge, the Callanish Stones were probably erected for astronomical purposes, since they appear to be in alignment with other standing stones and circles in the area. Further down the coast still is the sandy beach of Uig where in 1831 the famous "Lewis Chessmen" were discovered. The set of 78 pieces, carved from walrus ivory and whale teeth, dates from the 12th century. Unfortunately, it is not possible to view all the pieces together, as they were split up between the British Museum in London, which has 67 of them, and the Museum of Scotland in Edinburgh, which has the remaining 11.

Map of the area.


© 1994 Alan McKenzie, via Wikimedia Commons


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