Callanish Standing Stones, Isle of Lewis - The 'False Men' of Lewis

Callanish Standing Stones are located in the heart of the village of Callanish on the west side of Lewis.  As you approach on the road, up a very steep incline they appear, lurking on the horizon.  There are a number of other stone circles and standing stones in the area but this is biggest concentration of stones.  The whole complex is known as Calanais with this circle known as Callanish I.  

The stones are amazing, forming a cross with a circle formation at the centre of the cross.  This is dominated by a 4.8m high monolith above a chambered tomb.   Archaeological research has found that the stones were erected in about 3400BC between 4,500 and 5,000 years ago, making it older than Stonehenge.  The exact reason for these stones and those in surrounding areas as well as their geometric placement is still unknown. Celestial and lunar suggestions have been made as well as ideas for the significance within the community. Over time the site became enveloped in peat and it wasn't until the 17th century that is was rediscovered with the stones known as fir bhrèige (false men).

The stones have a strange feel and while you are in their midst it almost feels as if time stands still.  The views out over the island of Great Bernera are beautiful and add to the surreal feel of the site.  There is another collection of stones on Great Bernera, all part of the same complex. 

Photography at Callanish Standing Stones

This unique location provides lots of options for photography.  Spend time wandering the stones, looking at textures and patterns within the stones themselves as well as the arrangements between the stones.  There are so many stones here that it is impossible to show them all in one shot and do them justice.  It is much better to select small sections and focus on individual stones.

 Individual stones at Callanish Standing Stones on the Isle of Lewis provide stunning colours and textures when viewed in isolation.

They are perfectly placed for both sunrise and sunset as they sit on a small rise in an otherwise flat landscape.  Low light brings out the colours within the stones.  During the equinox the area becomes a focus for small groups but outside of these times sunrise and sunset can be quiet.

At night the landscape provides a perfect backdrop for star photography and the aurora borealis.

 ©Spannishjohnny72 -  Callanish Standing stones become illuminated at night by the northern lights and stars providing extensive photography opportunities 

©Spannishjohnny72 -

Callanish Standing stones become illuminated at night by the northern lights and stars providing extensive photography opportunities 

Bad weather does not prevent photography of these stones either.  Mist will hang over the stones and make them feel all the more magical and sunrise on a frosty morning can be beautiful.

 Callanish standing stones in the first light of a frosty morning

Visiting Callanish Standing Stones


Amazingly entry is free, you just go through the gate at the side of the stones.  Parking is tight by the stones, but a short easy walk away is a lovely visitors centre and coffee shop with lots of parking.  The walk from the visitors centre to the standing stones builds the anticipation as you can't see the site until you turn the final corner.

Parking grid reference NB 213 328

Parking Lat/Long 58.195681,  -6.7435670

Parking postcode HS2 9LP 

Map OS Explorer Map 458 (1:25000) West Lewis

Historic Scotland details about Calanais Standing Stones

Calanais Vistors Centre website