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Lewis, Druim Nan Eum

Quarry (Period Unassigned), Stone Circle (Neol/bronze Age)

Site Name Lewis, Druim Nan Eum

Classification Quarry (Period Unassigned), Stone Circle (Neol/bronze Age)

Alternative Name(s) Callanish X; Na Dromannan; Calanais

Canmore ID 4172

Site Number NB23SW 6

NGR NB 2297 3362

NGR Description NB 2297 3362 and NB 2297 3362

Datum OSGB36 - NGR

Permalink http://canmore.org.uk/site/4172

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Administrative Areas

  • Council Western Isles
  • Parish Uig
  • Former Region Western Isles Islands Area
  • Former District Western Isles
  • Former County Ross And Cromarty

Archaeology Notes

NB23SW 6 2297 3362 and 2293 3360.

A destroyed stone circle, consisting of at least eleven large pillar stones which have all been over-thrown, lies on the summit of the rocky ridge, Druim nan Eum (NB 229 339). Several of the stones are 10' in length and 4' in breadth. It is impossible to define the original situations of the stones, but their present position seems to indicate that there had been an outer ring of not less than seven pillars and an inner ring of four.

The west side of the ridge shows a roughly vertical face, so weathered that fine slabs of large size could easily be split off by wedges. This is considered by local people to be the quarry which provided the stones for the Callanish and adjoining circles (see NB23SW 1-4).

RCAHMS 1928, visited 1914.

At NB 2293 3360, on the W side of Druim nan Eum, there is a rock face, about 140m in length, from which stone has evidently been quarried, and several loose slabs remain.

On the rocky knoll to the E, at NB 2297 3362, are the 'pillar stones' described as a destroyed stone circle by RCAHMS, but there is no evidence that these stones have ever been set up. The level out-crop here has obviously had slabs prised from it and as some of the stones appear to be propped up ready for removal, it is more likely that they were prepared here for setting up elsewhere (e.g. Callanish). Some of them exhibit the typical trimmed top of many standing stones.

This site may therefore be similar to Vestra Fiold, Orkney, which is considered to be the quarry for the Ring of Brogar, Maeshowe, etc. (cf HY22SW 7)

Visited by OS (R L) 26 June 1969.

Excavation of this stone circle involved the removal of a covering blanket of peat and revealed that the circle comprised an outer ring of seventeen stones and an inner ring of five. Though at least two of the stones are missing, all of them had fallen, having been quarried on site and no more than chocked upright with packing stones directly onto the bedrock. The packing stones, fallen monoliths, some of which are broken, and the outcrops from which they were quarried remain exposed.

Visited by RCAHMS (ARG, SPH) 29 August 2009

Activities

Field Visit (2003 - 2006)

NB 230 336 Between 2003-6, the second phase of the Great Stone Circles Project focused attention on Lewis and was aimed at investigating the physical composition and architecture of the stone circles at Calanais, and the location of sources for the monoliths. Originally suggested as a source of the Calanais monoliths by the Royal Commission in 1928, on high ground (61.18 OD), c 2km NE of Calanais is ‘crag and tail’ known as Na Dromannan. Here large slabs are eroding from a low cliff, defining the W side of the ‘tail’, and it is these stones that have traditionally been considered to be source material for the circle complex.

However, macroscopic examination of the cliff in 2003 revealed no evidence of the characteristic hornblende inclusions present within the main Calanais circle (Callanish I). Indeed, the characteristics of this rock seemed quite unlike that visible in the lower circles. When visited in 2002, on the Southern summit of the Na Dromannan ‘crag and tail’, a number of angled monoliths were seen to project through the eroded peat. These had been interpreted as a fallen stone circle (Callanish X). As no monoliths remain standing there has always been a degree of ambiguity concerning the status of Na Dromannan as a stone circle. Nevertheless, others such as Aubrey Burl have assumed it to be a member of the Callanish group and Ron Curtis has identified it as a ‘flattened circle’.

In order to investigate Na Dromannan further it was decided to remove the peat cover to characterize the stones and the architecture of the monument. What was immediately clear was quarrying for monoliths had occurred at Na Dromannan, not at the cliff as had been assumed, but on the southern slopes of the crag and tail. Between 2003-6 this work progressed, revealing a ‘flattened’ stone circle built of stone monoliths quarried from the crag and tail. In short, Na Dromannan stone circle was actually standing on its own quarry.

Originally, the circle was composed of 17 stones within an outer ring c 22m in diameter. Five additional monoliths stood within the central area. One outlier stood to the N and two to the S of the circle. The later two stones, together with two further ‘erratics’, formed a short avenue leading upslope from the S along the spine of the ‘tail’. Today, all the stones have fallen and two of the outer circle are missing, being represented solely by their packing stones and fragments of broken monolith. Revealing the stones from a peat cover ranging from a depth of 1.1 to 0.06m, allowed a clear understanding of the process of construction. The circle once stood on a crag and tail outcrop on the W skyline as viewed from the Calanais circle (Callanish I). The ground-surface within the circle comprised rising folded rock with the folds filled with a natural soil and small stones (C French forthcoming). None of the stones had dug sockets, as they were positioned on outcropping rock. All the monoliths had been held in place by packing-stones wedged around their bases on the bedrock. This was an unstable technique and consequently all the stones had fallen over the last 5000 years. Most (but not all) had fallen fairly soon after erection, as little peat had formed beneath the fallen monoliths. No artefacts were recovered from the site, with the exception of a possible hammerstone.

Within stone circle studies there is a general impression of detailed planning and even precision with regard organisation and architecture of the circles. During our investigations, this view slowly dissipated, and although there seemed a clear purpose to both the landscape position and architecture of the circle, there remained the sense that monoliths had been added haphazardly to the circle. It was clear that a major feature of the circle was a concern with imagery. The majority of the monoliths were positioned close together along the flattened side (W), sometimes set just over 1m apart, whereas to the E monoliths were positioned up to 7m apart.

The excavation of Na Dromannan revealed that the circle was composed of monoliths quarried from the immediate vicinity. It had a preferred direction of approach from the S along a short avenue. Here it is worth noting the use and transport of glacial erratics within this arrangement. The circle was strategically positioned to be seen from the lower Calanais circles (particularly Callanish I and II). There was an impression of almost an ad hoc addition of monoliths, particularly in the central area of the circle. Overall, while demonstrating a pattern of quarrying monoliths from the immediate vicinity of the circles (in direct contrast to Orkney), these results also indicate the substantial differences that exist between circles within the Calanais complex.

Sponsor: British Academy and University of Manchester

Colin Richards, 2006

Field Visit (29 August 2009)

Excavation of this stone circle involved the removal of a covering blanket of peat and revealed that the circle comprised an outer ring of seventeen stones and an inner ring of five. Though at least two of the stones are missing, all of them had fallen, having been quarried on site and no more than chocked upright with packing stones directly onto the bedrock. The packing stones, fallen monoliths, some of which are broken, and the outcrops from which they were quarried remain exposed.

Visited by RCAHMS (ARG,SPH) 29 August 2009

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