Seven Sacred Sites in the UK
By Kate Everson
Copyright 2011 Kate Everson
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1: Callanish Stone Circle, Outer Hebrides, Scotland
This stone circle is not easy to get to, but worth the trip. You have to take the ferry, the Caledonian MacBrayne, from the port of Uig on the Isle of Skye and hope for good weather. The Outer Hebrides (Western Isles) have some of the stormiest weather in the UK and sometimes it doesn’t let up for days ... or weeks! But if you’re lucky, you will get some sunny skies and it will make it all worthwhile.
Take the ferry to Tarbert on the Isle of Lewis. The ride only takes an hour and a half and there are two ferries a day (except for Sunday when there are none!). Before taking the road to Callanish (Callanais in Gaelic) take a little side trip to the stone St. Clement’s Church, in Rodel, just south of Tarbert on the Isle of Harris (famous for Harris tweed.) There is an ancient 16th century chapel overlooking the sea, which is absolutely remarkable.
The old tombs are covered with carvings and you can feel how special it must have been to the residents on this remote island before it was abandoned in 1560 after the Reformation. One tomb is dedicated to Alasdair MacLeod, the builder of the church, and it shows him clutching a skull, surrounded by various carvings including everything from saints to hunting dogs. Alasdair was nicknamed Crotach, hump-backed, as a result of a battle with the MacDonalds. The tomb shows his effigy in armour, his feet resting on a crocodile. The arch is decorated with angels, saints and symbols of the apostles.