The Callanish Standing Stones are a very well known group of neolithic stones on the Isle of Lewis, sometimes described as Scotland’s Stonehenge. What is less will known is that there a number of neolithic sites all located within about a mile of the main group, including 3 other stone circles, known as Callanish II, III and IV, all of which are worth a visit.
The main group is pre-eminent, being made up of a circular group of 13 stones surrounding a single large stone, with four lines of standing stones radiating from the circle. The longest line of stones to the north is in fact a double line of 19 stones which form a corridor leading to the circle. In total, there are 49 standing stones which were erected between 2600BC and 2900BC, and the site was used for up to about 1000 years. After this, the site fell into disuse and peat gradually built up around the stones. This has since been stripped away to reveal the full height of the stones when they were first erected – the largest central stone being 4.8 m tall and weighing about 7 tonnes.
There are farm buildings and some old caravans to the north of Callanish I that intrude on photographs taken in that direction, however clear shots can be taken to the west and east, making it a good location for both sunrise and sunset. The site is very popular however, so patience is required to obtain photographs that are clear of people (though it is possible to ‘hide’ people behind the stones!) Callanish II has fences close to the stones, so is not such a good photographic site, however Callanish III and IV are on open hillsides, Callanish IV being particularly well located with views over Loch Ceann Hulabhaig.
At the main Callanish site, there is a car park with a Visitor Centre and cafe.
Postcode: HS2 9DY
The post code above is for Callanish I, which is west of the main A858 at Callanish. Turn west off the A858 and the Visitor Car Park is reached after 0.5 miles. The stones are a short walk from the car park. To visit Callanish II, return to the A858, turn south and after just 0.1 miles turn right down a minor road. Cars can be parked at the end of the road for a short time, but there is no clear parking space. For Callanish III, return to the A858 and continue south for 0.2 miles where there is a lay-by on the right side of the road with an information board and the path to the stones. To visit Callanish IV, continue along the A858 for a further 1 mile and turn south along the B8011. The stones should come into sight in less than 0.5 miles, on the hill to the right. Look out for a footpath climbing to the stones rising from a small gate through the fence. It is possible (just) to park next to the gate.