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Scottish Standing Stones

North of Duddo

As mentioned in a previous post about the Duddo Standing Stones in north Northumberland, prehistoric standing stones are human-made upright stones that have been placed into the ground vertically, often in circular formations. They date from various periods, mostly between the Bronze Age and the Iron Age, and are found across the UK and beyond. Here are a few photos of stone circles that I’ve visited in Scotland over recent years that helps to highlight the similarities in the formations across a wider geographical area.

Callanish Standing Stones

When viewed as a whole, the monument in its dramatic landscape speaks of a powerful sense of human purpose, wonder and sacred heritage.

The Callanish Standing Stones [58°11’50.418″ N 6°44’43.5″ W] on the Isle of Lewis were erected around 2900 BCE. They are arranged in a cruciform pattern with a central stone circle. A so-called ‘chambered cairn’ was added around 2400 BCE.

Eight of the Callanish Standing Stones
Callanish Standing Stones (2021)

Moss Farm Road Stone Circle

Moss Farm Road Stone Circle [55°32’33.006″ N 5°19’45.504″ W] is situated on the Isle of Arran. It is a 20m diameter ring of angular, upright, red sandstone boulders erected around a central burial cairn.

Photo of the Moss Farm Stone Circle
Moss Farm Road Stone Circle (2022)

Machrie Moor Standing Stones

Machrie Moor Standing Stones [55°32’25.548″ N 5°18’45.81″ W] is a group of six stone circles on Machrie Moor on the Isle of Arran. They were all built between 3500-1500 BCE on top of earlier timber circles. This is a photo of Machrie Moor Circle 2:

Three of the Machrie Moor Standing Stones
Machrie Moor Stone Circle 2 (2022)

The circle has a diameter of around 14m. Only three of the original seven or eight stones survive today. They are constructed from red sandstone and so show similar weathering patterns to those seen on the Duddo Standing Stones in Northumberland.

Tomnaverie Stone Circle

The Tomnaverie Stone Circle [57°7’9.54″ N 2°50’58.674″ W] is one of 74 known so-called ‘recumbent stone circles’ found in North-East Scotland. This one is situated near Tarland within the Cairngorms National Park. It is another Early Bronze Age monument (c. 2300 BCE).

Tomnaverie Stone Circle
Tomnaverie Stone Circle (the recumbent stone can be seen lying horizontally on the ground between two upright stones at the back of the circle) (2023)
Photo of recumbent stone at Tomnaverie Stone Circle
The recumbent stone at Tomnaverie Stone Circle

What’s the point?

Mmm…good question! There isn’t a definitive answer as to why our ancestors built the stone circles. As mentioned previously, they are thought to be associated with astronomy, rituals and burial sites. Whatever their significance, standing stones are mysterious and fascinating monuments of ancient cultures.

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