Callernish Circle

Callernish Circle.

Callernish is a district on the west coast of the island of Lewis, 16 miles from Stornaway, remarkable for its stone circles. There are four of them, quite close together but without any visible relation. The principal one, of which the sketch here gives a bird's eye view, is of an unusually elaborate design. Two lines of upright stones run parallel to each other in a northerly direction, while a single line of similar stones is projected from the south, east, and west points, thus giving a cruciform shape to the structure, whose extreme dimensions are 408 feet by 130 feet. A larger stone than any of the others, being 17 feet high, and 5½ feet broad at the base, occupies the center of the circle, which is 42 feet in diameter. The stones themselves are not columnar or shaped in any form; they are simply broad, flat blocks of gneiss – the prevailing rock from the Butt of Lewis to Barra Head. There are 13 stones in the circle, including the center one, 19 in the avenue, 4 in each of the east and west, and 5 in the south arm. The peat, which over the centuries had accumulated to a depth of 5 feet, was removed in 1858, when a chambered cairn was discovered within the circle.