Standing Stone Circles & Kissing the Highlander
Many settings across Scotland have inspired me and my stories. A few that I've found most inspiring have been standing stone circles. They are so mystical and mysterious. Do they have magical properties? Will they cause people to time-travel or find true love? Everyone wonders who built them and why. Not even the experts truly know all the answers, though they have many theories. All we know is that some of them were built around 5000 years ago and most have astronomical alignments.

I've always wanted to include standing stones as an important element in a story. Finally, I had the opportunity when my friend Terry Spear suggested we write an anthology of Scottish historical romance novellas. Standing stones are featured in each of our stories in Kissing the Highlander by Terry Spear, Victoria Roberts, Eliza Knight, Willa Blair and myself. The book is available for pre-order on most bookseller sites, including Amazon, Kobo, Smashwords and coming soon on pre-order to B&N and iTunes. It will be released Feb. 10 just in time for Valentine's Day. My novella is called My Captive Highlander and it is a part of my Highland Adventure Series. You will see familiar characters from past books but also many new characters. This story is the beginning of a new MacKenzies spin-off series.


My Captive Highlander by Vonda Sinclair
After a galley wreck in a storm, Shamus MacKenzie is taken hostage by the enemy MacDonalds. Maili, sister of the ruthless chief, feels compelled to bring this dark warrior food and see to his injuries. With one forbidden kiss, Shamus steals her heart. Can he convince the enchanting lass to help him escape the dungeon, preventing a battle between their clans and saving many lives?

Now, about those standing stones, one of my favorites is Callanish Standing Stones on Isle of Lewis in Scotland. It is a circle that extends out into a cross shape.


Callanish is beautiful, atmospheric and mystical just as I'd imagined from all the photos I'd seen of it over the years. Carbon dating has shown that Callanish is older than Stonehenge. They were erected between 2900 and 2600 BC. It is believed that people lived here as far back as 3000 BC. This is around the same time period that Skara Brae was settled on Orkney.


Experts believe that the main circle at Callanish was designed over a long period of time and may have had input from seaborne travelers because of the similarity between Callanish, Stonehenge and Avebury in England and Carnac in Brittany.



Do you see how the central stone is taller? When you are reading my story, My Captive Highlander, and the scene that takes place among the standing stones, visualize this stone. :)



Callanish was almost hidden, buried beneath the deep layers of peat for many hundreds or perhaps over a thousand years. A nearby chambered cairn was just discovered in the 1990s and it is believed more standing stones and other ancient monuments could still lie beneath the peat at various places around Lewis waiting to be discovered.

We learned Callanish isn't just one standing stone circle but that there is a whole complex with many standing stones in the surrounding area. It includes eighteen sites. We didn't get to visit any of them but they include Clach Stei Lin in Airidhantuim, Clach an Truiseil in Ballantrushal, Steinacleit in Lower Shader, Kerb Cairn in Breascleit and several others. Some are chambered burial cairns. Most of them have interrelated sight-lines which means they have a close relationship to the main circle at Callanish. This may have once been the most important spot on Lewis for political or religious reasons.



Callanish is a circle with 13 main stones with a central monolith and five radiating rows of stones. The two rows of stones which form an avenue, aligning almost true north, links with Stonehenge, Avebury and Broomend of Crichie in Aberdeenshire. Some say the overall layout of Callanish is a Celtic cross design although it was built in pre-Christian times. The stones are 1 to 5 meters in height and they are made from local Lewis gneiss stone. The tallest marks the entrance to a burial cairn where human remains were found. The site was excavated in 1980 and 81 and they discovered the cairn was a later addition to the site. Experts believe the stones were a prehistoric lunar observatory. Others believe there is a relationship between the stones, the moon and the Clisham range on Harris.


One explanation for Callanish is that every 18.6 years, the moon skims especially low over the southern hills like a god visiting earth. Wise people who lived long lives must have noticed this unusual occurrence. A thousand years after it was built, Callanish was abandoned and the area inside the circle leveled. It is not known whether this was for agriculture of for ritual cleansing. The climate started to change around that time, becoming colder and wetter. This climate change caused the peat to grow deeper and deeper until the stones were almost buried. When the peat was cut in 1857, their true height was again revealed. In the 17th century local people called them "false men." In 1885 the main circle was taken into state care.



Thank you for checking out my post!
Vonda

18 Responses
  1. Alanna Lucas Says:

    Wonderful post and so informative. Congrats on the upcoming release!


  2. Thanks so much, Alanna!! :)


  3. Awesome information!

    Thanks so much.

    Sharon :)


  4. Thank you for checking it out, Sharon!!


  5. Your pictures are as always magnificent. I suppose what really fascinates me is how many stone circles there are--little unimportant ones as well as the magnificent famous ones. I remember sitting on one of the stones in some insignificant circle somewhere in Ireland--probably County Meath--and thinking how much work it would have been to assemble even those stones and wondering what had been so important that it was worth doing it over and over and over again.


  6. Thank you, Beppie!! That's true. I suppose every community wanted a standing stone circle for their own. Or at least one they could travel to that wasn't too far away. They must have had incredible significance to these early people.


  7. Annie Kelly Says:

    Hello Vonda.
    Wonderful post. I love stone circles, but they always make me shiver... The theories about them leave much to the imagination. I went to Stonehenge in 2000; it was forbidden to go inside the circle but even if it had been allowed, I'm not sure I would have went! Brrr... Thanks for such detailed info/ lovely pics.
    Annie (aka Kelly Ann Scott)


  8. Thanks, Annie!! How neat that you visited Stonehenge. I would love to visit it. I don't get negative feelings when I go into the standing stone circles in Scotland.


  9. Your post and your pictures are amazing, Vonda!


  10. Thank you for checking it out, Alina!! Glad you liked it.


  11. Thanks for the virtual tour of the Standing Stones. I hope to visit them someday.


  12. Fascinating, Vonda. I wanted to see these when I was in Scotland but ran out of time. Thanks for sharing this.


  13. I'm glad you enjoyed it, Brenda and I hope you get to visit them soon!


  14. Thanks, Mary! I hope you'll get to take another trip soon and see them.


  15. I had no idea the standing stones had that type of storied history. Very interesting. I'm in awe that 13 stones surround Callenish - especially with so many folks believing it to be an unlucky number.


  16. Thanks so much, Tamara. I agree. Callanish is a fascinating place. It is interesting about the number 13.


  17. Kathy Martin Says:

    Thank you, Vonda, for the most interesting and informative post. I'm fascinated by the standing stones and was very disappointed when I could only see Stonehenge from a distance. Can you touch the stones at Callanish?


  18. librarypat Says:

    Interesting post. Thank you. I keep finding more and more I want to see when, not if, we get over there. Someday soon I hope.


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