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Achmore - Isle of Lewis, Scotland
Stone Circle
National Grid Reference: NB 317 292

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How To Get There

From Stornoway head southwest along the A859 for about 5 or 6 miles. You should find a brown sign pointing off to the right for Callanish and Dun Carloway. Follow this road for around 3 miles to reach the village of Achmore. The circle is on top of the hill to your right; you should be able to see some power pylons up there. There is a small but convenient patch of gravel by the road which is where we parked. If you reach the junction in the village you have gone too far; head back a few hundred yards.

The remains of a stone circle at Achmore have been gradually uncovered since the 1930's. The circle lies under an area of peat which is allocated to the owner of one of the crofts in the village below. Each year a portion of peat was cut away for fuel until more and more stones were uncovered. Eventually in 1981 the suspicions were reported to archaeologists and the site was investigated later that year by Margaret and Gerald Ponting.

What they discovered under the peat was a circle some 41 metres in diameter. Nearly all of the megaliths are fallen, and they must have done so in antiquity to be covered to such a depth by the peat. The nearest stone in the photograph above is still standing and appears to be still half buried by peat.

I was planning to have quite an in depth investigation here, to carefully follow around the plan of the entire circle. However the visit became quite rushed as we suffered a midge attack, the worst one during this trip by a long way. There were pools of water in the bottom of what I can only assume are the remains of trenches in the peat from the excavations here. This combined with the high temperatures recorded on Lewis for the weeks preceding our visit must have made for perfect midge breeding conditions. They are really quite vicious little things, "teeth on wings" I heard somebody describe them as and they would be about right. Our departure from the circle was premature and less than dignified!

The photograph above is of one of the larger stones at the site; the packing stones from the hole that the megalith would have stood in are clearly visible. The "blunt end" of the stone would have been the base. Other stones of the circle can just be seen in the background.

Pretty much essential reading for anyone who wishes to visit the site is the excellent "Achmore Stone Circle" by Margaret and Gerald Ponting who also publish a smaller field guide to the site. Both or either are well worth having with you to help explore the circle. It's really quite a thrill to identify the individual stones. In addition I would recommend some insect repellent if you are visiting in the midge season! Proper walking gear is recommended whatever time of year you visit. The site is only a little way off the road and up the hill but I would expect the peat to be very boggy during winter or after heavy rain. It was still quite soggy in places even in the middle of August.

I wonder how many people that drive past or sit in coaches thundering along the road below towards Callanish could even guess that this once splendid circle was even here?

A remarkable site, and one that I intend to visit again when I get a chance - out of midge season!

Nearby Sites

Dun Carloway

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