Just beyond the standing stones of Callanish is a small hillock of boulders and green earth. It was here we sat, partly to contemplate the enormity of the site before us… a place we had both long wanted to visit and thought we might never see… but also to await the departure of the latest horde of tourists. While we are glad to see a resurgence of interest in these ancient places and understand the exigencies of the ubiquitous guided tour, it always feels wrong, somehow, to see crowds being disgorged from huge coaches, knowing visitors are obliged to ‘do’ the site in fifteen minutes, take a few pictures to prove they were there and leave without ever having a chance to feel the spirit of a place or contemplate its relationship with earth, hills and sky.
So, in the lee of a great stone, we waited. The hillock and its boulders may well be a natural feature… I have found no official reference to it being anything else… but if it is now as it was five thousand years ago when construction was begun at Callanish, there is no doubt in our minds that it would have been used and formed part of the ritual site. If we could see its ritual possibilities, our ancestors would not have missed them.
The odd thing was that, although we were in the open and in plain sight, we appeared to be completely invisible to the other visitors. No-one met our eyes or smiled, no-one acknowledged our presence. Several people almost stood on us. Indeed, one visitor stood so close, taking photographs, that our feet were almost touching… yet we might as well have been wearing elven cloaks and hidden from view.
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