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Field Visit

Date 2013

Event ID 994368

Category Recording

Type Field Visit

Permalink http://canmore.org.uk/event/994368

NB 21285 33015 A row of four stones/megaliths, created as a sunrise alignment for the equinoxes, stands to the W of the circle at Callanish l.

Stone 23 The stone furthest from the circle is blocky, whereas the other three slabs are aligned with the row. It is common for the end stone of a row to differ from the others in this way.

Stone 22 The stone next to stone 23 is a diamond shaped slab.

Stone 21 The next slab is much shorter, but it is not broken. The top is weathered and it has always been the shortest in the row. It now leans a little to the N.

Stone 20 The slab nearest to the circle also leans a little to the N.

Standing alongside stone 23 on the N side, and looking E towards the circle, the flat N face of stone 22, the top of short stone 21, and the S side of stone 20 formed a narrow gap/slit/window when stones 20 and 21 were upright. An observer at the N side of stone 23 would have seen further, through the circle between stone 49 on the left, and stone 45 on the right, to the far horizon where equinoctial sunrises took place. When upright, stone 21 may have hidden stone 49. GR Curtis considered that prehistoric observers stood at backsight stones such as stone 23, with the observer’s right shoulder to the stone.

The stone(s) of site 14 lie on the sub–horizon at NB 228329, 1.5km from site l. A reassessment was made of the earthfast stone, which is 0.72m x 0.37m x 0.40m high. There are five small ‘packing stones’ around it. It is possible to probe 0.10 to 0.15m under it in three places. It is not considered to be a standing stone in its own right. It is just possible that this in situ stone once supported a boulder and was an equinox sunrise marker as seen from site l. The boulder is c1.0 x 1.0 x 1.3m. It has irregular sides and rounded edges and a void underneath. The boulder lies down slope to the S of stone 14, c5m away. Compare this with the use of two boulders for marking sunrises and lunar S extremes at Callanish XXVlll (DES 2010, 185).

At the spring and autumn equinoxes, the positions of sunrises (and sunsets) change most from day to day, c0.7degrees per day. We can see exactly the same sunrises and sunsets as did prehistoric people 5000 years ago at the equinoxes. The boulder on the sub-horizon at site 14 may have been used as elsewhere in Britain to differentiate over four years when it was required to insert an extra day, a leap year day, to the calendar.

Stone 45 stands in the SE quadrant of the circle. It has been claimed that stone 45 bears the image of a man (the ‘Sun God’?) on its inner face. It has hornblende clusters on its outer face. Stone 45 forms the right hand side of the viewing line from stone 23, through the slit formed from stones 22, 21 and 20, then through the circle. The image of a man can be seen from stone 23 at the W end of the W row.

GR Curtis and MR Curtis, 2013

(Source: DES)

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