The Modern Antiquarian. Stone Circles, Ancient Sites, Neolithic Monuments, Ancient Monuments, Prehistoric Sites, Megalithic MysteriesThe Modern Antiquarian


Standing Stone / Menhir


This was a 'wonderful surprise'. Again, I have Margaret Curtis to thank for pointing it out. It was a very windy, chilly, bright day and I took a few minutes for myself to run and look at this stone. Some ancient sites induce a sensation of euphoria, this was definitely one of them - the wind, the rolling clouds and the blue sea in front of me gave me a momentary feeling of flying. What more can I say.

Photographed the information board and have reproduced the text below:

"In this field today stands a solitary standing stone almost 2 metres high, overlooking the Sound of Taransay. It has remained in this position for up to 5,000 years since the Neolithic period or Early Bronze Age. Across the Sound, another standing stone is set above the shore on the island of Taransay, and a third, Clach MhicLeoid, is on Aird Nisabost to the north-east. Over the years local legends have gathered around the stone. In one, a giantess was gathering limpets on the shore and, striking a stone with her hammer, it flew off in three pieces, which landed at each of the three sites.
The Scarista bardess Seonag NicSuain wrote a ‘Song of Steineagaidh Stone’
‘Some say in the village
(though unproven so far)
‘Tis a headstone of a chieftain
From Fingalian’s war.

Should arms and battle
Stir up, as of yore,
Won’t he have to struggle
From ‘neath Steineagaidh Stone

Each man will retire
In peace to sleep in pastures
But over Finlay’s land
The big stone will be watching’

When the stone was first raised, however, it was part of a complex prehistoric ritual site. In front of the stone stood a large circle of 12 or 13 atones more than 40 metres in diameter, indicated now by several fallen stones or the stony sockets in which they had stood. Behind the stone is also a large circular mound which, if contemporary with the circle, may be the remains of a burial cairn. Geophysical survey has shown that around all of this was a ditch, either man-made or natural, that defined the edges of the monument.

The scale and complexity of the original site, and its proximity to other standing stones, suggest that this was the this was the focus for prehistoric religious activity in Harris, as Calanais was for Lewis.

The field wall is said to have been built from the demolished houses of the Scarista tenants who were cleared from the area in the 19th century."
tjj Posted by tjj
31st May 2013ce

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