There are places everyone knows about but just can’t pin on a map. This is the case of Petra, Chichen Itza, and Stonehenge for example. So where is Stonehenge exactly? Is Stonehenge in Scotland?

Stonehenge is not in Scotland because it is located in the Southwest of England, 30 miles from Bath. People usually confuse Stonehenge with other structures in Scotland.

Why do people think Stonehenge is in Scotland?

People think Stonehenge is in Scotland because they associate stone circles with Scotland. This is not particularely a bad idea because there are lots of Stonehenge like structures in Scotland. How many stone circles are there in Scotland?

There are 16 stone circles in Scotland. But Stonehenge is not one of them. Indeed, Stonehenge is located 8 miles north of Salisbury.

This piece of data tricks most people. Tourists usually visit Scotland for its rock formations like the Old Man of Storr, its villages like Plockton, its mountains like Ben Nevis, and for its stone circles! But if they want to see Stonehenge, Scotland is not the place to go. Wiltshire is the place to go!

However, there are other stone circles in Scotland that people can visit. This is what we are going to see now.

Stonehenge like structures in Scotland

As mentioned earlier, there are 16 stone circles in Scotland, and some of them are even more impressive than Stonehenge. I will present to you three of them: Callanish Standing Stones, The Ring of Brodgar, and Machrie Moor Standing Stones. Those three stone circles are among the best of Scotland and you won’t be disappointed by any of them.

Callanish Standing Stones

Callanish Standing Stones, also called Calanais Standing Stones in Gaelish are located on the Isle of Lewis. This is one of the most northern island in Scotland. To have an idea, it is even more northern than the Isle of Skye where the Old Man of Storr is located.

Now to know what it looks like, just look at the following picture.

stonehenge under blue sky photo
Callanish Standing Stones on the Isle of Lewis. Credits to Gordon Williams

Compared to Stonehenge, we can say that the stones have more space inbetween. It looks a little less harmonious, but also more impressive. This is mostly due to the scenery around. The Isle of Lewis is a wild island and the atmosphere can be more submersive there than among the tourists near Stonehenge.

To have an order of comparison, let’s look at the number of stones in both Callanish Standing Stones and Stonehenge. How many stones are there in Stonehenge? There are 93 stones in Stonehenge. And how many stones are there in Callanish Standing Stones?

There are 48 stones in Callanish Standing Stones. The map of Callanish Standing Stones is very interesting because one of the standing stone is located in the middle of the circle, showing that Callanish Standing Stones were probably not only an altar.

Plan of Callanish Standing Stones in Scotland
The Plan of Callanish Standing Stones is very special. Credits to Wikipedia

As you can see on the plan, the stones form a kind of cross. It looks like there is an avenue north of the circle, and that everything is leading to the center. It is impossible to understand exactly how this stone circle was used, but we can have pieces of information regarding its age.

Stonehenge was created 3,000 years BC. What about Callanish Standing Stones? Are Callanish Standing Stones older than Stonehenge?

Callanish Standing Stones were created 3,500 years BC, so they are older than Stonehenge. But Callanish Standing Stones is not the oldest stone circle in the United Kingdom, because Castlerigg Stone Circle is older, making it the oldest stone circle in the UK.

The Ring of Brodgar in Orkney

The second stone circle I wanted to talk about is the Ring of Brodgar. It is part of the Heart of Neolithic Orkney, which is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Just like for Yosemite ValleyUluruGrand CanyonHa Long Bay, Iguazu Falls, and a ton of other places, UNESCO chose to reward The Ring of Brodgar for its uniqueness.

It is a UNESCO World Heritage Site because lots of archeological works are in progress in the area. This is what you can see in the following video.

Credits to National Geographic

Archeologists learn a lot thanks to the Ring of Brodgar and thanks to the Hearth of Neolithic Orkney in general, and this is what makes this place so special.

And when it comes to the location of the Ring of Brodgar, you will need to deserve it! Indeed, the latter is located in the Mainland of the Orkney Islands which is north of Thurso. Taking a ferry boat will be the best way to visit it.

Machrie Moor Standing Stones

Finally, the last stone circle I want to mention in Machrie Moor Standing Stones, located on the Isle of Arran. Machrie Moor Standing Stones is not as big as Stonehenge or Callanish Standing Stones because it only consists of six standing stones, but it is interesting for other reasons.

Indeed, the fact that this stone circle is also a bit smaller creates space for imagination. Just like all other stone circles in Scotland and in the UK in general, there are lots of legends and mysteries around it. This is what makes Scotland so special. The atmosphere around those stone circles is unique. And Machrie Moor Standing Stones is this kind of place.

Machrie Moor Standing Stones is also a bit easier to visit than the two previous stone circles because it is located in the isle of Arran, which is more southern. The scenery around it is also a bit different, with more mountains in the area compared to the flatness of the Orkney Islands.

This article was written to help you differentiate the different stone circles in Scotland and also to understand where is exactly Stonehenge, the most famous one. Indeed, the hearth of neolithic history is located in Scotland when it comes to stone circles, but there are lots of other stone circles all around in the United Kingdom.

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