|The Trushal Stone Circle (Destroyed Stone Circle) and the Ballantrushal Stone Circle (Ruined Stone Circle)
I have been sitting down meaning to write this for so long that I hope that I can remember it all correctly. So where do I begin? How about the beginning? OK here goes.
There is something really cool about September, and I am not just talking the temperatures here, its that time when your on the cusp of the change in seasons when the glowing embers of summer start to fade and there is a feeling of real change in the air. Its also the time of year when myself and Moey dust down the walking boots/ load up the car with the tent (and as many crisps as we can eat and cans of diet coke that I can drink) and head out into the wilds for a spot of stone circling, camping and as much Chinese food as we can possible tolerate; which is a lot!
And so it was in September 2002 that we decided to head out again to the Western Isles of Scotland for a week progressing up the coast via the Isle of Arran pausing briefly in Kilmartin and The Isle of Skye before reaching The Isle of Lewis. It had been three years since our last visit and we were both looking forward to revisiting the many of the sites that we saw in 1999 as well as seeing those that we missed but most importantly meeting up again with Ron and Margaret Curtis and making the pilgrimage to see Iarsiadra Standing Stone (Callanish 8A) which we had helped Ron and Margaret resurrect in September1999.
We pitched the tent at the campsite in Stornoway (within easy reach of the Chinese takeaway; they know how to rough it these boys!) and set off to see Ron and Margaret.
For anyone making the pilgrimage to Callanish, no trip is complete without a visit to see Ron and Margaret; I kid you not it is an essential part of the Callanish experience. Their knowledge and enthusiasm knows no bounds and what is more is increasing all the time and their willingness to share that information, to get it to a wider audience so that it isn’t lost is key. In our first meeting with Ron and Margaret they had asked us if we would help them to resurrect the Iarsiadra Standing Stone at Site 8A which was a fantastic experience; could we hope for something similar again this time? Oh yes and in spades. Ron and Margaret were very excited; high up on the hill overlooking Breasclete Village is Callanish 11 (also known as Airigh Na Beinne Bige) a solitary standing stone. Ron and Margaret were sure that this lonely figure at one time had been part of a circle -theories, which they document in their book The Stones Around Callanish (Gerald and Margaret Ponting/ revised by Ron and Margaret). They asked us if we would like to come along and help collect evidence to try to prove it. Would we? Hmmm you bet we would, and off we went armed to the gills with measuring tapes once owned by the legendary archaeologist Alexander Thom, my totally unfit 34 year old city dweller self trying desperately to keep pace with surely the fittest two 60something + in the universe as we climbed the hill.
We spent a fantastic afternoon, identifying socket holes, stumps of stones (remnants of stones pulled down long ago and used in houses and dry stone walls), locating but not digging out, disturbing or uncovering a fallen stone buried under the peat and assessing the location and finally measuring distances between the stones/stumps/ socket holes and the diameter of the circle.
Its days like this that elevate the whole stone circling thing to another dimension.
With the skill of experienced card players Margaret and Ron then played an ace, would we like to put in to practice everything that we learned at Site 11 at another location the following day. We didn’t need to be asked twice. As Julian mentions in The Modern Antiquarian Margaret and Ron had theorised that the Clach an Trushal standing stone had also been part of a stone circle and they planned to survey the local area for evidence.
The plan was thus; Ron and Margaret would survey the dry stone walls bordering the lane in which the Trusal stone stands looking for stones which the locals could have removed from the circle. Moey and myself were despatched to the adjacent fields put to practice the knowledge that we had learned the previous day and look for further signs of possible stone circle activity.
Moey looked for evidence of possible socket holes and a fallen stones in the field immediately to the left of the Trushal Stone as you look outwards to the sea. Meanwhile Ron and Margaret painstakingly surveyed the wall (individually drawing every stone) and assessing the landscape in the vicinity of the Trushal Stone to determine whether the ground had formed a platform for a circle. Their assessment based on the research of this day and the subsequent 4 or 5 weeks afterwards was that there had indeed been a circle on this site. They concluded that many of the stones from the wall had originated from the circle which had been potentially up to 28 to 30 metres in diameter with stones up to 1.5 metres high.
What was I doing when all this was going on? I drifted off into a field in a south easterly direction from the Trushal Stone when I came across what look like standing stones that had been pushed over (inwards facing) measuring 2.7meters in length, 1.05 meters in length and 1.7 metres in length respectively. Further investigation highlighted similar stumps and socket holes that we had seen at Site 11 the previous day and some sizeable broken slabs, which could have been part of the circle. Measurements determined that the potential circle had been approximately 42 meters in diameter. Subsequent to our visit Ron and Margaret revisited the sites regularly over the next month to make further assessments of the validity of each as a possible stone circle location. It is their conclusion that the Ballantrushal Stone Circle (42meters in diameter) offers a perfect observation position for the Beltane and Lammas sunsets in May and August as from this location the very top of the Trushal Stone grazes the sea horizon. In addition that both sites form a part of a megalithic complex on the North West Coast of Lewis together with monuments such as Steinacleit. Interestingly, although neither site is documented on any OS maps or maps dating back to the 19th century, local knowledge suggests that there was at least one circle in this area and that the last erect standing stone of the Trushal Stone Circle was dug up and used as a lintel of a local house in the summer of 1914.
Following further research after we departed, Ron and Margaret registered both the Trushal Stone Circle and the Ballantrushal Stone Circle with the Council For Scottish Archaeology and details were published in its publication Discovery and Excavation Scotland Volume 3 2002. Re the Ballantrushal Stone Circle; the finders are listed as myself, Moey, Ron and Margaret Curtis, while Ron and Margaret are listed as the finders of the Trushal Stone Circle.
This destroyed stone circle was rediscovered by Ron and Margaret Curtis on 19th September 2002 and documented in the Council for Scottish Archaeology publication Discovery and Excavation Scotland Volume 3 2002. Additional details are included in my web log Two "New" Stone Circles (Re) Discovered On Lewis.
This ruined stone circle was rediscovered by Ron and Margaret Curtis, Moey and Joolio Geordio on 19th September 2002 and documented in the Council for Scottish Archaeology publication Discovery and Excavation Scotland Volume 3 2002. Additional details are included in my web log Two "New" Stone Circles (Re) Discovered On Lewis.
Posted by Joolio Geordio
1st June 2004ce
Edited 4th June 2004ce
Joolio Geordio's TMA Blog