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14 October 2004
Callanish Stones to star in rare lunar broadcast

The mysterious Callanish Stones in the Western Isles (Scotland) will be the centrepiece of a live broadcast being planned to capture a rare lunar event.  The standing stones on Lewis have intrigued archaeologists and historians for 6,000 years. Erected by Neolithic farming people, they are believed to have a special association with the cycle of the moon.  The site includes a central circle with four limbs running out in line with the points of the compass. Some of the stones are said to be aligned with the sun and moon at various times of the year and could have been used to predict eclipses and the coming of the seasons.
     Every 18 and a half years, a moonlit event culminates in the appearance of the "Earth Mother", a figure seemingly outlined in the shape of the hills south of Callanish. Local people call the image 'Sleeping Beauty' in English or 'Cailleach na Mointeach' in Gaelic - which translates as 'The Old Woman of the Moors'. After rising over the Earth Mother, the moon passes through the Callanish stones two to five hours later. As this happens, if a person stands on the hillock at the higher south end of the site, the moon is "reborn" with a person silhouetted within it.
     The next event is due in 2006. After rising over the figure, the moon passes through the Callanish Stones and, as this happens, if a person stands on the hillock at the higher south end of the site, the moon is "reborn" with a person silhouetted within it.
     Victor Reijs, an archaeoastronomy enthusiast, plans to broadcast the 2006 event worldwide via the internet and is on Lewis gathering support to set up a web cam. Margaret Curtis, a local expert on the stones, said: "Callanish is basically a large lunar observatory where prehistoric man was able to record the extremes of the moon’s cycles.

Source: The Scotsman (5 and 13 October 2004)

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