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Civil Engineering heritage: Scotland - Highlands and Islands

Date 2007

Event ID 962874

Category Descriptive Accounts

Type Publication Account


Callanish Standing Stones, Isle of Lewis

(Institute Civil Engineers Historic Engineering Works no. HEW 1718)

This ancient monument is arguably the most impressive in Britain after Stonehenge and called for what have come to be recognised as civil engineering skills in its creation. It includes thirteen tall stones forming a circle some 37 ft in diameter on a remote moorland. To the north of this circle stretches an avenue of stones 270 ft long and 27 ft wide, of which 19 stones remain. To the south of the circle there is a shorter, narrower avenue formed of six stones, and to the east and west there are short arms formed of four stones each. Within the main circle is a burial cairn, and opposite the entrance to this stands the tallest stone of the monument, some 16 ft in height. The alignment of the stones relates to astronomical observations.

The construction of the monument is generally dated from the Bronze Age, or about 1500 BC, and must have required the organisation of a labour force and tenacity of purpose extending over many years.

R Paxton and J Shipway, 2007.

Reproduced from 'Civil Engineering heritage: Scotland - Highlands and Islands' with kind permission from Thomas Telford Publishers.

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