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Calanais Standing Stones, Isle of Lewis

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Standing Stones & Stone Circles

What are standing stones?

Calanais Standing Stones colourful sky

When the first settlers arrived in Scotland over 10,000 years ago, they began to erect incredible monuments, some of which can still be seen today. Stone circles can be found across Scotland and were likely to be places of ceremony, worship burial grounds and social gathering places. Some examples of Pictish stones with intricate carvings and designs have also survived, particularly in the north east regions of Aberdeenshire and Moray.

What do stone circles mean?

Ring of Brodgar dawn

The purpose of these stones is a puzzle that modern day archaeologists can only speculate over. Many sites are believed to have been used for religious or ceremonial purposes, but these ancient sites may forever remain shrouded in mystery.

Where are standing stones found?

Machrie moor stand stones sun

There are many ancient sites in Scotland, each with a tale to tell. Travel to the Hebrides to find standing stones in Mull, visit some ancient Aberdeen stone circles in the north east, or explore Achavanich standing stones and the Aviemore stone circle in the Highlands. Orkney and Shetland have a particularly prevalent number of standing stones, but you can find them all over Scotland.

Standing stones facts and myths

The Twelve Apostles

The Twelve Apostles are standing stones in Dumfries and Galloway that form the largest stone circle in mainland Scotland. They're the seventh largest in Britain, making them one of the most interesting examples of stone circles in the UK.  

Calanais Standing Stones

Calanais Standing Stones couple beautiful day

Nicknamed the "Stonehenge of the North", these iconic standing stones on the Isle of Lewis are believed to be 3000 - 5000 years old. In the 17th century, the people of Lewis called the stones na fir bhrèige, or "the false men".

The fictional Outlander standing stones are based on this stone circle, so you're sure to be swept away by the history and romance of this ancient site.

Find out more about the Calanais Standing Stones or watch Mo Thomson's bird's eye view video of the stones and sandy beaches on Lewis and Harris, Sand and Stones

Machrie Moor Standing Stones

Machrie Moor stand stones

These standing stones in Arran are part of a dramatic moorland rich in archeological history, including stone circles, burial cairns and more. These stones on the Isle of Arran may have once been used for observing astronomical activities, with the prehistoric standing stones dating to back to between 3,500 and 1,500 BC.

Find out more about Machrie Moor Standing Stones

Ring of Brodgar

Ring of Brodgar

Prehistoric stone circles in Scotland don't get much more impressive than the Ring of Brodgar. It comprises 27 stones and is part of the Heart of Neolithic Orkney World Heritage Site. It is one of several significant Orkney stone circle sites which also include the Stones of Stenness.

Find out more about the Ring of Brodgar