Probably the tallest standing stone in Scotland.
It's been eleven years since my last dalliance with the Trushal stone, too long, and since then they've decided there was once a stone circle here, maybe two, or even a stone row, sounds familiar doesn't it?
We got here about dusk, in late July that's about 10pm, due to an incurable tent malfunction, were staying in the big metal tent tonight, it's got an inbuilt radio at least, and you don't have to pack it up in the morning, so we parked in the small layby next to the apparently empty house that is right next to the stone.
We had a good look round the stone just as the post sunset golden glow faded away. In the morning it was quite surreal to look out the back window and see a megalithic wonder right there. The stone is tremendous, I'll be back for sure.
Oh dear! The largest standing stone in Scotland; a bit of a tourist trap perhaps as well as a mecca for megalith hunters. Maybe, even, a second Callanish.
So what do you find when you get there? Well it's signposted from the road but then you drive through a very unattractive area with rusting cars. And then no information at the stone itself. Doesn't even say how big it is.
Given the good record of information boards located at other sites, you might have thought that the Lewis authorities would want to talk this one up a bit.
And there is a story to tell - apart from its height. See the Folklore and Miscellaneous postings here.
Now this absence of information should not have affected our visit since we had all the stuff from Canmore. Yet, somehow, I did not get the buzz from this site that others clearly have although I did enjoy searching around for the "lost 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.
Ooooh, I really liked this site! We had spent the previous day at various sites of stone circles, so to come across this monster menhir was quite refreshing....I think of all the sites on Lewis, this was my favourite, just for the pure majesty of it. We were followed up the path by an aged labrador who seemed happy for us to be in his territory, and the backdrop of the sea and the sky was just awesome.
After the complexity of Callinish and its sister sites, the single huge monlith seemed understated and yet even more impressive.
Shame someone has seen fit to open a haulage site right next to the stone though!
Clach an Trushal Standing Stone, Lewis
We stopped off here on our way up to the Butt of Lewis on a rather blustery and overcast day- nothing like an enormous standing stone to cheer ya up! This monster is one of the tallest in Scotland and is approx 6 metres tall and covered in a fine array of lichen.
A beast of a stone, mysterious to me for its lack of horizonal or land-based monuments. What purpose does such a massive block serve? Covered in utterly amazing sheets of moss and lichen, which were lushly dripping with rainwater when I visited.
Close by the township of Ballantrushal is the tallest standing stone in Scotland. Almost 5.7m high, this monolith could easily have been a prehistoric sea marker. The coastline hereabouts tends to be rocky and it is no particular coincidence that the beach close by is one of the few amenable landing places available for open craft. The Gaelic name is Clan an Truseil, the Stone Of Sorrow. Local tradition has it that it marks the grave of a Norse prince, but also commemorates the victory of the Morisons of Ness over their sworn enemies, the MacAulays of Uig. The monolith, however, predates any event AD.
The Thrushel Stone in the Parish of Barvas is above 20 foot high, and almost as much in breadth. There are three erected Stones upon the North side of Loch-Carlvay, about 12 foot high each. Several other Stones are to be seen here in remote places, and some of them standing on one end. Some of the ignorant Vulgar say, they were Men by Inchantment turn'd into Stones; and others say, they are Monuments of Persons of Note kill'd in Battel.
This book of Gaelic ballads includes one called 'Laoidh an Truisealaich' . It is "an imaginary conversation with a great standing Stone" and "Murray, the reciter, asserts that it was the custom in his youth to recite this 'Lay of the Truiseal Stone,' near the butt of Lewis in Shawbost."
According to p270 of 'A pronouncing Gaelic dictionary' of 1833 by Neil McAlpine (online at Google books), 'Truiseil' means 'lascivious'. Maybe that's why other writers have said they don't know what it means - it's too rude for polite society.
The stone and a poem connected with it are mentioned in 'Footprints of Early Man' by Donald A. Mackenzie, 1909 (online at google books) but there's not much mention of the source:
A standing stone 20 1/2 feet high and 6 1/2 feet broad, with a notch at one side near the top, is situated 80 feet above the sea-level and facing the Atlantic on the west coast of Lewis. It can be seen far out at sea, and it [..] may have been a landmark for the guidance of mariners. Seen from a distance it resembles a human hand. Its Gaelic name is "Stone of the Truiseal", but what "Truiseal" means is not known. An old Gaelic poem asks the "great Truiseal": "Who were the people in thine age?"
but the stone gives a very vague answer, saying it merely "longs to follow the rest" (the ancients), and that it is fixed "on my elbow here in the west".
Well, coming from Borve along the road and having consulted a few of my fellow locals, it is doubtfull that the battle marker scenario carries weight. Not saying some folks don't hold to it, but as far as I was always told it was a burial marker for a Norwegian princess who was on her way to Ireland to get married. She died on the journey and this is where they buried her at first land sight. Personally, I think that's nonsense as has recently been proven by Joolio Geordio, Curtis etc that it is part of a larger setup. You only have to look at the other large prone stones right beside it to see that. No way was it a menhir. Check out Joolios postings on it anyway. Still an amazing place.
Clach an Trushal might mean 'stone of compassion', or maybe 'stone of gathering'. It's the largest standing stone on Lewis at 5.8m high and allegedly was erected to mark a victory by the Morisons of Ness over their enemies the MacAulays of Uig.
(I probably read this in Mr Grinsell's 'Folklore of Prehistoric Sites in Britain' (1976)).