We had wondered about the real nature of this landscape. On this our third day on the Hebridean Island of Lewis, we paid a long-anticipated visit to Callanish, the place of the famous stones – though the main site is not a stone circle. There, I came across a sign that perfectly described the rather barren landscape all around us.
The sign read: Welcome to the Drowned Lands…
Welcome to the Drowned Lands:
Following the last Ice Age, 14,000 years ago, the sea level rose, giving us the rather barren landscapes of the lochs and drowned valleys of the Western Isles – the local, and preferred name of the Outer Hebrides. They were, quite literally, drowned by the melting ice, having been crushed and worked by the glaciers.
The Callanish Stones are an arrangement of standing stones – but placed in a cruciform pattern with a small central stone circle at the cross point.
They were erected in the late Neolothic era (new Stone Age – 8000-3000 BC) and were a focus for ritual activity during the Bronze Age, 3300 BC – 1200 BC. This immense age means we have little understanding of their beliefs and spiritual methods, but we know that following nature in the form of the seasons, and studying the movements of the heavens were central to those beliefs. The cycles of crop planting and harvesting were likely to have been central to their myths.
You arrive at the site via the famous visitor centre – sadly closed on the Sunday we visited for religious reasons…something amusing about that! The ancient stones are obviously not looked upon as sacred places…
To be continued next week…
Continuation onto the the Hebridean Island of Lewis:
A Hebridean Diary: Part One – Impressions of Lewis
A Hebridean Diary: Part Two – Long Road to Uig
A Hebridean Diary: Part Three – Of Coats and Kings
This is Part Four – The Drowned Lands
©Stephen Tanham 2022
Stephen Tanham is a Director of the Silent Eye, a journey through the forest of personality to the dawn of Being.