When the moon Walks upon the Earth: Tales of the Callanish Stone Circles (Tursachan Chalanais).
Updated: Jul 30
On the west coast of the island lies a collection of stones that have fascinated, humbled, healed and attracted people from all ages, backgrounds and locations since 2500BC.
The Isle of Lewis is the northernmost point of the Outer Hebrides, home to communities, settlers and travelers for thousands upon thousands of years.
'Callanish was built out of stones with beautiful ripples and patterns, showing Earth's striking properties.' - Melissa Hogenboom, BBC Earth
We know that stone to be the UK's oldest rock; Lewisian Gneiss.
500 years before the building of Stonehenge in Wiltshire, the people of Lewis were creating a calculated connection between the Earth and the Universe. Moving stones, each weighing up 10 tonnes, they built what is know as one of the 'Great Circles' of Britain.
It's not just the building materials that set this construction apart from its Bronze Age counterparts. Although officially classed as a stone circle, the Callanish Stones have a complex structure and almost unique ground plan.
From their unique hill top vantage point, these stones look out over lakes and sacred mountains. The most notable of which being 'Cailleach na Mointeach' or The Old Woman of the Moors, a mountainscape that resembles a woman lying asleep on the horizon. The ancient landscape remains unchanged, embracing the patterns of the sun and moon, calculating their return with precision and serenity.
It is believed, although not yet proven (the mystery of these stones remains one of their biggest draws to archaeologists and scientists around the world.) that these stones were built to calculate a phenomenon celebrated in the Neolithic world known as 'When the Moon walks upon the Earth' or a Lunar Standstill.
Every 18.6 years the moon returns to its original place, completing a full cycle. The Callanish Stones track the moon's progress in this cycle, culminating in a beautiful display upon its completion. For 4 hours, the moon can be seen to walk upon the tops of the mountains and along the sleeping woman on the horizon, dancing between the megaliths, each placed specifically to track the passage, before once again setting to begin the 2 decade cycle once again.
The ancient landscape remains unchanged, embracing the patterns of the sun and moon, calculating their return with precision and serenity. The old woman of the Moors waits to embrace the Moon upon its arrival as She has done since the mountains themselves formed. The name is therefore, not one of appearance, but of age and respect for the Sleeping Beauty upon which time and the cyclical nature of the Earth was calculated for Neolithic beings of Lewis.
With an average age expectancy of 35 in the Neolithic Era, this was a once in a lifetime experience for the ancient inhabitants of Lewis.
The next Lunar Standstill is expected at the Callanish Stones in 2024.
Lewisian Pendants are now available in The Highland Collection, own your own piece of the stones that have connected and honored the cycles of Earth and the Stars for centuries.