Wednesday, November 22, 2006

The Stones of Callanish

Not far from Uig on the Isle of Lewis lies mysterious Loch Roag. You can paddle your sea kayak to the shore at the edge of the moor of Callanish (Calanais). As you approach, you realise that the irregular skyline is composed of great stones raised on end.

You climb to the summit of the moor and you are dwarfed by the circles and avenues of the Callanish Stones which have stood here for over 4,000 years. No one knows what purpose lay behind the labour of our ancestors.

It is only when you get close to the stones that you realise their true beauty.

In the city I had an idea for a photograph. We would carry our kayaks up to the stones and stand them on end among them. Standing there on the moor, it seemed a crass thing to do and they remained on the beach. I am not sure whether our ancestors would have been amused.


  1. I once took a photo of a number of kayaks adjacent to an abandon vehicle or two on Clear Island, West of Ireland. When I look at it, I find the vehicle blends quite well into the environment, yet the garish coloured kayaks are a bit of eyesore.

  2. While hunting with an group of Inuit off western Baffin Island years ago, we came upon a small island covered with stone 'inkshuit'. I was astounded at the number of them and asked about how this had come to be. I was told the island was used as a stopping place for the passage across Baffin. Inuit travelers would either head east or north from this spot on two separate routes. Often it meant waiting for others to join them so to kill the time, people built stone towers, men, arches, whatever. Many modern visitors assume the site had deep religious significance... If they only knew!

  3. Grazie, I agree about old boats and cars gradually decaying and becoming part of the landscape.

    Michael, I wonder if in 4,000 years when our descendants excavate a perfectly preserved sea kayak from the sand dunes, whether they will attach some deep significance to our motives for going sea kayaking.

    As a parallel point, for all our technology, which means written communication has never been easier, the words in these blogs must be considered as ephemeral with little chance of surviving 10 years never mind 100 or 1,000 years.