Calanais: Spirit…

France & Vincent

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We first coined the term ‘Spirit Stone’

at Waylands Smithy.

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It has served us well,

denoting as it does, a stone,

which, like the spirit, holds many forms.

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There is usually at least one such stone

at every site of note

which we have visited.

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These days, though, there appear

to be more and more of them…

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So, maybe it isn’t an objective

description at all!

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Dreaming Stones: Line of sight

Sue Vincent's Daily Echo

The stones of Callanish were still busy. We were going to need supplies… and still needed to refuel the car and pump up the dratted tyre yet again. We thought it was time to leave the stones behind and drive into Stornoway, the largest town on the island, to do the needful. The trouble was, we would have to pass a couple of sites on the way…and it would take a fair bit of discipline to simply drive past without stopping.

In my memory, we went straight from Callanish to the next site, but according to the time-stamp on the photographs, we must have succeeded in resisting temptation. The facilities of civilisation were, by that point, very necessary, and we had already learned that twenty-four hour opening had not been adopted this far north. We didn’t want to miss our chance and be caught with another flat tyre and nothing…

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Calanais: Graces…

France & Vincent

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Presumably the fence is here,

to keep out the sheep!

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From the camera’s perspective,

sheep can be less offensive

than people… and fences.

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Careful how you look, now,

or else you’ll see faces!

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You see a face?

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Then you are possessed…

of heart.

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As indeed the world

is possessed

of spirit.

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Dreaming Stones: Second sight

Sue Vincent's Daily Echo

We had returned to the stones of Callanish for a second attempt at getting the feel of a place of which we had a little knowledge but no real understanding.  Facts are not enough, you have to walk the land before you can begin to know it.

We knew, for example, that there are astronomical alignments at Callanish. And, for once, we did actually know that… it was not some weird theory thrown out by folk whose reality through other eyes. At Callanish, Castlerigg and other stone circles throughout the realm, scientists are now able to offer incontrovertible proof that such alignments were part of the original design.

The University of Adelaide, bless them, decided to put that theory to the test and, through the use of statistical analysis, 3D imaging and a host of other modern and scientific methods, were able to determine that… as we and the…

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Dreaming Stones: Invisibility and other weirdness

Sue Vincent's Daily Echo

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…

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Calanais: Sentinels and Sights…

France & Vincent

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Some of the stones look too tall

and too thin

to have stood for so long.

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Especially in this wind…

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The sky over Lewis

is perhaps best described

as skittish.

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If the clouds around Skye

skudded…

here, they flit

like ghosts

are supposed.

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Stones

as bones

of the earth

was given

yet, somehow,

when stood

they become ‘blood’.

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Don’t ask…

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Calanais: Busy…

France & Vincent

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… ‘Busy’ would, perhaps, be a better word?

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We do not mind busy stones at all,

and this lot look like they are dancing!

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However, when the stones are busy with people,

things can get a bit disconcerting.

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With its fairly recent visitor centre,

Callanish is now very definitely on the tourist map.

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The coaches

arrive with sickening regularity,

to spew out their brightly coloured

innards…

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Over the stones!

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Thankfully, the coach parties

seldom spend any longer than

ten minutes on site.

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And provide us with yet another reason

for an autumn or winter return,

or even spring…

if reason were still needed.

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Calanais: Moot-Points…

France & Vincent

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We may have

to take issue with Burl.

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There is nothing cramped about this monument.

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And that word implies, does it not, unfit for purpose?

Which Callanish most certainly is not.

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From a distance the stones resemble figures

gathering to moot,

and even up close that notion is

difficult to shake.

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And if they gather to converse

then it is with the moon and stars

that they hold congress.

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Unfortunately, at this time of year,

at this latitude on the globe,

we will be lucky to see any

of those heavenly bodies…

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And if the white night

fails to scupper us

cloud cover undoubtedly will!

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Dreaming Stones: First sight…

Sue Vincent's Daily Echo

“Oh good grief…”
“I can see it…”
The distant silhouette of the great stones of Callanish were unmistakeably outlined on the horizon. In spite of all the challenges, including fully-booked ferries, deflating tyres, a distinct lack of beds, food and coffee, we had made it…and made a dream come true. And, as if to reward our perseverance…
“There’s a café…”
“Cool!”
“…and llamas…”
“You’re joking…”

My passenger cast his eyes to the heavens in mock-despair, but did not challenge the assertion. The first time I’d ‘found’ an unexpected llama in an unlikely place, he hadn’t believed me… until we got close enough to see and meet Lammas, the sheep-herding llama on the North Yorkshire moors who had given us directions to a sacred site. This time, however, I was wrong… as we drove closer, we could see that they weren’t llamas after all. Just their smaller cousins, alpacas. Which was…

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Calanais…

France & Vincent

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Given that we had never really expected to get there,

once on the Isle of Lewis,

we became quite blase about our arrival,

and stopped for a kip and a snack,

in a passing point, on the way into Calanais.

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Normally, we would have headed

break-neck for the site.

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Everything about this trip has been,

and continues to be, unusual…

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The monument is named for the area,

Calanais, and the area is named in Scots Gaelic,

which to my mind, at least, sounds and looks very similar to Old Irish.

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Also, given that we never really expected to get here,

Wen has done some research,

And there are now eighteen known sites of archaeological

interest at Calanais, at least four of which are stone circles.

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Four stone circles!

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That is not a bad return when only expecting one…

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