Dreaming Stones: Caught in the middle…

It was definitely a first… I have never stood within one distinct stone circle and been able to look at two others on the near horizon. The stone circle of Callanish II, otherwise known as Cnoc Ceann a’Gharaidh, stands just three hundred feet from the shore of Loch Roag, within sight of the Callanish Stones, and nine hundred west of Callanish III. And you can feel it.

The Callanish Stones are just visible on the horizon between the portal stones.

You have to wonder at their alignment, especially when you later realise that they are just one small grouping amongst nine stone circles within a ten mile radius… with at least another six known on this one small island.

The stones themselves are arranged in an elliptical ‘circle’ around a central cairn almost twenty-eight feet in diameter, which was almost certainly a burial mound. Many of the stones of the cairn have been scattered and it could easily be missed by the casual visitor… but there is a presence at this place that makes itself felt, millennia after the site was built.

Antiquarians explored the site in the nineteenth century, noting that the space within the stones was ‘causewayed’. Small holes, lined with pebbles were also found which were probably post holes and may have supported a wooden structure within the stones.

The place reminds me of a circle on the moors in Yorkshire that is thought to have been a place where the dead were prepared for burial. If that were so, then perhaps the presence of water, so close and separating this circle from the main monument of Callanish might be significant… the lands of the living from the lands of the dead… though which would be which?

In front of the cairn is a stone slab, laid in the grass. I wondered if it had ever been designed to stand or whether it was a place of preparation? The Old Ones cleaned the flesh from the bones of the dead as part of their funerary rites.

To modern minds this may seem barbarous or disgusting, but when you think about it, it makes perfect sense in an era when there was no way to preserve flesh from decay and when the presence of the ancestral bones at the heart of many rites was considered necessary and sacred.

Cleaning the bones may even have represented part of the rite of passage for the deceased, helping them on their way to the Otherworld by hastening the process, aiding the spirit to detach itself from life. In which case, defleshing their remains would have been a gesture of both love and respect.

There are only five of the circle’s stones now standing. The smallest is six and a half feet tall, while the tallest is nearly eleven feet in height. Their presence matches their stature and each stone has a distinct character.

There are traditional attributions for the shapes of certain stones. The Maiden stone is usually the triangular stone in a circle. The Mother is red, the Crone heavily textured and gnarled…while the masculine force is often marked by a stone heavily veined with quartz. At least one stone was lost. Thought to have Ogham carvings on its side, it was removed to Stornoway for ‘safekeeping’ and placed by the gates of Lews Castle… where it was later ‘accidentally’ broken up and used as building material…

As with many of the ancient places on these isles, little official excavation has been done to date… so we were able to wander between the stones, taking time getting to know each of them without preconceptions…  simply feeling our way to the spirit of the place. But we were far from done with another circle peeping at us from the crest of the hill…

About Sue Vincent

Sue Vincent is a Yorkshire-born writer and one of the Directors of The Silent Eye, a modern Mystery School. She writes alone and with Stuart France, exploring ancient myths, the mysterious landscape of Albion and the inner journey of the soul. Find out more at France and Vincent. She is owned by a small dog who also blogs. Follow her at scvincent.com and on Twitter @SCVincent. Find her books on Goodreads and follow her on Amazon worldwide to find out about new releases and offers. Email: findme@scvincent.com.
This entry was posted in adventure, Ancestors, Ancient sites, Don and Wen, france and vincent, historic sites, Photography and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

54 Responses to Dreaming Stones: Caught in the middle…

  1. Alli Templeton says:

    Nine stone circles? This is so intriguing! I was there with you, absorbing the past. How special.
    I know what you mean about their funerary rights, cleaning the bones. I remember them discussing this on Time Team once, and they said the same thing. ‘It’s just what they did’. And when you think about it, it does make sense, and it would have done to them then. I often say this about the Middle Ages when people balk at things they did, but it’s too easy to be anachronistic about these things. It’s something, as historians, we have to avoid doing, and try to judge people, medieval or otherwise, on their own standards, not ours. Only then can we truly get anywhere near the mindset of those distant peoples. Fantastic experience for you, Sue. 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Jaye Marie says:

    There isn’t much care and respect for us now, never mind the ancients!
    But at least they cared way back then…

    Liked by 1 person

  3. msuzanneb says:

    It sounds like a fascinating place. I must visit someday to hear, feel and see the energies that flourish within this sacred place. Thank you for sharing.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. fransiweinstein says:

    Amazing Sue, to think any of them are still standing and visitors are free to wander and even touch them.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Dale says:

    Wow. That is fascinating indeed.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. willowdot21 says:

    This is all so amazing 💜

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Deborah Jay says:

    I’ve stood where you stood, and taken dozens of photos, but I’ve learned more about these stones reading your post than I ever did while there – thank you.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Suzanne says:

    Your detailed knowledge of stone circles and ancient death rites is staggering. Thank you for sharing it with us.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Widdershins says:

    You must’ve felt like a kid in a candy store. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  10. dgkaye says:

    Wow, what a fascinating journey Sue. I just can’t get past skinning human flesh. ❤

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Adele Marie says:

    I believe, de-fleshing is still carried out in remote parts of Tibet. xxx

    Liked by 1 person

  12. Jennie says:

    It is amazing that there are multiple stone circles, close together. If I am in awe, I can’t begin to imagine what this experience was like for you. Best to you, Sue,

    Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.