Last day on Lewis: a bit of Hebridean history

The Isle of Lewis is flat and bleak peatland with rough heather rather like the top of the Yorkshire moors or Kinder Scout (for those who know it) except not as high up.  There are hardly any trees and the houses all have steep roofs that come low over the pebble dashed walls to keep the wind off. The effect can be rather depressing in the rain but also atmospheric.  Many of these modern houses have replaced old stone houses (of which you can still see the ruins) which in turn have replaced even older stone houses right back to the ‘brochs’ of the ancient islanders. I guess with the winds that sweep the Outer Hebrides anything you build has to be pretty tough and sure enough, some of the old Brochs are still standing among the ruins of much newer houses.

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Here is the Carloway Broch, visited on our last day on Lewis. According to the wee lady in the shop up to 30 people would have lived in this stone building which had 3 floors and stairs that ran up the cavity between it’s two layer thick stone walls. Pictures also show Clare getting squashed by the Broch and the Broch in relation to the next door village with a strange mixture of houses and ruins through the ages.

Finally, not trip to Lewis is complete without a visit to the Callanish Stones (which you have to run around 3 times anticlockwise for luck.

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We won’t post hundreds of pictures of these fantastic stones (because at the end of the day they are just stones) but they are worth a mention. Set on top of a barren rainy hill they are arranged as stone circle with four straight lines radiating out like a compass rose. These are thought to have been used to tell the time of mid winter and the equinox. Either way we thought it was appropriate to say a few prayers whist we stood there, in-case the pagan gods were listening ‘fair winds and a following sea’.

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