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Archaeo News 

8 November 2016
Definitive report on the famous Calanais Stones

The extraordinary cross-shaped setting of ancient monoliths erected 5,000 years ago at Callanais in the Western Isles of Scotland predates Stonehenge, and was an important focus of ritual activity for at least 2,000 years. The site receives almost 40,000 visitors per year, and the definitive archaeology report has now been published detailing a series of important excavations during the 1980s.
     The author, Patrick Ashmore, is a former Principal Inspector of Ancient Monuments with Historic Scotland, now Historic Environment Scotland.
     Ashmore, says: "I have always distrusted archaeological excavation reports which contain only summary certainties. My 30 years of inspecting excavations and reading the final reports on them convinced me that a lot of observation is faulty, a lot of recording is inadequate, and much interpretation is more speculative than its authors admit. All this is true of this report on Calanais, apart perhaps from the last; for I have (to some people's taste tediously) described many doubts and disagreements. On the other hand, I have described the findings very fully so the report provides material from which others can advocate different interpretations. It is very good that Historic Environment Scotland has now been able to publish it on its website along with publications like the superb inventories of monuments and sites produced by the old Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Scotland."
     Doctor Alison Sheridan, contributor to the publication and Principal Curator of Early Prehistory, National Museums Scotland, says: "The pottery assemblage - much of it in pieces no bigger than a postage stamp - has an intriguing and detailed story of its own to tell, and it's been a privilege to work with Patrick Ashmore on revealing that story."
     Richard Strachan, Senior Archaeologist for Historic Environment Scotland says: "I was privileged to work with Patrick in the twilight years of his career up until his retirement in 2006. The importance of this seminal work to our understanding of Calanais cannot be understated, and I'm delighted that it's now available, in its entirety, for public consumption for the first time."
     The full report, "Calanais Survey and Excavation, 1979-88", can be found on Historic Environment Scotland wesbite

Edited from Historic Environment Scotland (5 October 2016)

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