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Calanais, Isle of Lewis, Outer Hebrides (Credit: VisitScotland/ Kenny Lam)
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Callanish Calls Us Home

By Mairi Murray

The Callanish Standing Stones were my play park in the 1960s, the chambered tomb my baby doll's cradle.

My mother Chris moved from Callanish to Glasgow, became a nurse and married my father, John Robertson in 1949, going on to have a happy family of six. We travelled home to Callanish every summer for six weeks, piled in the VW camper van. First to help my grandmother, and then auntie Cath with Croft number 8, where the final standing stone was discovered buried in the peat (or so the story goes).

They were summers of running free on the moors and swimming in the lochans. A trip to the beach at Valtoss or the Butt of Lewis, catching crabs, fishing for trout or salmon always a pleasure except when the midges had you running back home for a feed of freshly gathered muscles, oatcakes and crowdie. Then working hard together, bringing home the peats, helping with the sheep at the fanks, raking up hay and building the stooks, cleaning out the henhouse, collecting the eggs, digging up the tatties and helping catch the single cow with calf out on the common grazing to bring home to the byre for milking time. Climbing the Clisham, cycling to Dun Carloway broch, an exciting trip to the Stornoway shops, plenty of ceilidhs with the extended family and friends to share fresh food, fun, laughter and love. Such happy memories come swirling back at the first scent of smoke from a peat fire.

An artistic tribute to the Callanish Standing Stones of the Isle of Lewis
Image provided by Mairi Murray

Many thanks to Mairi Murray for sharing with us the story behind her journey stone, created as part of the Tapestry of the Highlands and Islands.


Prior to the beginning of the stitching of each tapestry panel, each stitcher of the Tapestry of the Highlands and Islands was tasked with telling their interpretation of the 'Spirit of the Highlands and Islands' within a blank outline of a stone. The possibilities were truly endless - is it represented in the land? The people? A historical site? A favourite memory?

In any case, each journey stone represents the connection between of each individual stitcher, their story, and their own sense, or 'spirit', of place. Discover more of the stories behind the journey stones of the Tapestry of the Highlands and Islands here.