The Callanish Stones are a collection of stones arranged in the form of a cross. They are located near the village and Callanish, Scotland, erected in the late Neolithic era. One local legend claims the stones were petrified giants who would not convert to Christianity. Another claims the stones as the end of a hiking path for an entity known as “the Shining One,” who walks amongst the stones in early midsummer mornings and is heralded by the call of a cuckoo.
Carved from lewisian gneiss, the Callanish Stones consist of a large stone circle, a series of standing stones, and a large chambered tomb-like structure beneath the ground.
Thought to be the focus for Bronze Age ritualistic activity, numerous nearby monuments and stone circles suggest the area itself was a site of prehistoric religious activity for at least 1500 years. Although interestingly, sometime around 1500 – 1000 BC the complex fell into disrepair as Bronze Age farmers used up the land. It was abandoned probably sometime around 800 BC and by 500 BC the smaller stones and the circle were covered by turf over 1 meter thick.
As with most things this old, the way these stones were used remains a mystery. Not surprisingly there is some thought that it was a lunar observatory, but critics quite reasonably argue that alignments between stars and standing stones are bound to exist by pure chance as much as they deliberate design. Moreover, extreme weathering and shifts in the earth over millennia mean there is no way to be certain that these alignments are even still accurate.