On the way back from visiting the reconstructed round house at Traigh Bostadh we stopped at the small parking area at the northern end of the Bernera Bridge.
This is a very easy site to access and only requires a very short but quite steep walk.
The site consists of 3 impressive standing stones – 1 x 2 metres tall and 2 x 3 metres tall.
There is of course also the ‘birthing chair’ although I doubt that is what it was as there didn’t appear to be any room for the baby to pop out!
The stones wouldn't have looked out of place at Callanish with there patterned swirls and 'hairy' lichen.
There are great views along the coast from the stones and this is well worth stopping for.
Visited in June 2006 and the weather was fantastically hot. We parked up and spent a good 30 minutes at the site before spotting a pair of eagles circling overhead! I think I may have been suffering from a combination of Hebridean heat stroke and prehistoric over-load because I really couldn't take this site in....it was just too confusing at the time. Absolutely spectacular though.
Visited 2nd August 2004: Just as enigmatic as I'd anticipated, Bernera Bridge is a weird old thing. It's situation above the channel of Sruth Iarsiadar is a great sensory bonus. The reflection of light (even on a dull day), the sound of the sea, the distant views, and even the modern bridge make it a great spot.
Long before the bridge this was a crossing point to Bernera, but what would it have looked like during the Neolithic? The sea levels were lower, so what did this spot represent to the people who put up the stones?
The Bernera Bridge 'circle' could be a lot more accessible than it is, given how close it is to the road. A steep gravel slope leads up to the site, so not ideal for anyone who's got limited mobility.
First a pedantic point. Ron Curtis, writing in 1988, dismissed any idea of this being a circular setting. Neither a full circle with half fallen into the water nor a semi-circle by design. His views were based on the position of the stone hole of the easterly of the two N stones relative to the holes for the other two large stones. This stone hole was established prior to re-erecting the stone.
Also, there is a small stub of a stone just over the fence to the E which is aligned E/W but would be N/S if it were part of a circle. It can best be described as a group of standing stones all facing roughly S looking over to what is now mainland Lewis.
If anything, this makes the site more interesting. The stones are located just below a wide level ridge of ground and, if they were meant to be visible markers, this would have been a more obvious location for them.
In their current location, clinging to the hillside, they are much less visible. So it must have been important to place them precisely there.
Astronomical? Well I can't comment, but what I've read for this site sounds less convincing than the theories put forward elsewhere.
Access Information layby on right over bridge. Short, steep climb up steps to the site.
monday 27th may 02
this place just about defies description... was fascinated by the two largest stones and how different they are from each other, like the mother and father of them all.
after lengthy chats with margaret, i set out to test out the central birthing stone! i sat there for ages , in the perfect birthing postion looking out across the loch and to the mountains.. unbelievable, all the stones perfectly positioned for hands , back , feet and what a view to greet a new life ! a place like no other, serene, the sound of the water below and the huge guardian stones behind you.. i hope i can take my kids there one day!
The site is positioned on the hill called Cleitir which is the Gaelicised version of the name Klettr, a Viking word meaning rocky hillside. One of the stones was I think re-positioned by the laird of the island Le Compte Mirlees in the 1980s.
Also known as Callanish VIII, Gerald Ponting (Margaret Curtis' first husband) names this site as Cleitir (Cletcher).
As you can see from the photos, this is a fantastic setting, and has such a 'pull' that I found it very hard to leave.
When you get to Lewis ensure that you get a copy of 'The Stones around Callanish' By Gerald & Margaret Ponting (Curtis). It's got all the detail you need on the so-called minor sites. If you look across the strait from the site you should see a lone standing stone to the left of the road-this was moved during road construction and was re-erected my Margaret and Ron Curtis, as was one of the menhir at the main site. Ron has actually left his initials near its base!
I don't know if this circle has a name. Margaret Curtis didn't either - so maybe it doesn't! Well worth a visit - take the B8011 heading from Callanish and drive towards the island of Bernera - linked now by a bridge. Park immediately after crossing the bridge and the circle is on your left, just up from the roadside.
The stones are impressive, 4 large standing and it appears that the southern edge of the circle has fallen into the sea due to coastal erosion. The stones are of the same gneiss that the Main Callanish complex is constructed of, but have assumed fantastic shapes with whorls and spirals suggesting an almost human form. In the centre is an odd arrangement of stones which forms a natural seat - rumoured to be a birthing chair. Indeed, if you sit in the "chair" with your feet up on the facing stone there would be no more natural position for birthing.
About 500 yards away to the other side of the road are a series of cupmarked rocks along the water's edge. Continue along the road for another few miles and you come to a lovely little beach, where pictis houses were discovered in the late 1970's