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


Standing Stones


West of Stornoway an avenue of stones leads across the moors to a circle of thirteen pillars around a chambered cairn about 4,000 years old. Fir Bhreig, 'The False Men, is the gaelic name for the group. In Ireland, many standing stones are known as far-bhreaga or 'false man', these are usually being solitary menhirs which from a distance look like people, their 'falseness' lies in their not being human as they appear.

the Lewis pillars are said to be giants who refused to build a church for St Keiran and were therefore turned into stone. Such retributory legends are common in folk tradition, and the meta-morphosed beings may be believed to recover their power of motion at certain times, becoming able to walk or even to dance. The sin which they were petrified is often that of having danced on the Sabbath.

A second account of Callanish is that the stones were brought to Lewis in ships by a priest-king and set up there by black men under the guidance of priests in feathered robes, and another belief was that 'The Shining One' appeared there on mid-summer morning to walk the length of the avenue, heralded by the cry of the cuckoo, the bird of the Celtic land of youth Tir-nan-Og. It used to be the custom for local families to visit the stones on that day and on May Day at first openly and then in secret when such practices were condemned by the Kirk.

It is said that once during famine on the island a woman was so desperate that she went to sea intending to drown herself, but saw a white cow which appeared from the waves and told her that she and all her neighbours should bring their milk pails to the stones of Callanish that night. When they did so, the cow provided them with a pailful of milk, and this bounty continued until a witch brought a sieve instead of a pail. as the cow could not fill it however hard she tried, she was milked dry, and was never seen again on the island. The power of witches to get abnormal supplies of milk from cows, whether ordinary animals or magical ones, was well know.

The Lore Of Scotland : A Guide To Scottish Legends

Westwood & Kingshill
drewbhoy Posted by drewbhoy
2nd January 2024ce
Edited 2nd January 2024ce

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