Many settings across Scotland have inspired me and my stories. A few that I've found most inspiring have been standing stone circles. They are so mystical and mysterious. Do they have magical properties? Will they cause people to time-travel or find true love? Everyone wonders who built them and why. Not even the experts truly know all the answers, though they have many theories. All we know is that some of them were built around 5000 years ago and most have astronomical alignments.
I've always wanted to include standing stones as an important element in a story and I was able to in my novella, My Captive Highlander.
Can unexpected passion and a little ancient magic turn enemies into lovers?
During a fierce storm on the west coast of Scotland, Shamus MacKenzie barely survives a galley wreck only to be captured and held for ransom by the enemy MacDonalds. Aided by the gift of second sight, Maili MacDonald, sister of the ruthless chief, senses the handsome, dark-haired stranger will somehow be important in her life. Compelled to help him, she insists on providing him food and a healer to see to his injuries. She knows she is daft to fall in love with this captivating warrior after one forbidden kiss but cannot help herself. With each visit from Maili, Shamus finds his thoughts consumed by the enchanting lass. Can he convince her to help him escape the dungeon and prevent the impending battle between the two clans?
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Now, about those standing stones, one of my favorites is Callanish Standing Stones on Isle of Lewis in Scotland. It is a circle that extends out into a cross shape.
Experts believe that the main circle at Callanish was designed over a long period of time and may have had input from seaborne travelers because of the similarity between Callanish, Stonehenge and Avebury in England and Carnac in Brittany.
Do you see how the central stone is taller? When you are reading my story, My Captive Highlander, and the scene that takes place among the standing stones, visualize this stone. :)
Callanish was almost hidden, buried beneath the deep layers of peat for many hundreds or perhaps over a thousand years. A nearby chambered cairn was just discovered in the 1990s and it is believed more standing stones and other ancient monuments could still lie beneath the peat at various places around Lewis waiting to be discovered.
Callanish is a circle with 13 main stones with a central monolith and five radiating rows of stones. The two rows of stones which form an avenue, aligning almost true north, links with Stonehenge, Avebury and Broomend of Crichie in Aberdeenshire. Some say the overall layout of Callanish is a Celtic cross design although it was built in pre-Christian times. The stones are 1 to 5 meters in height and they are made from local Lewis gneiss stone. The tallest marks the entrance to a burial cairn where human remains were found. The site was excavated in 1980 and 81 and they discovered the cairn was a later addition to the site. Experts believe the stones were a prehistoric lunar observatory. Others believe there is a relationship between the stones, the moon and the Clisham range on Harris.
One explanation for Callanish is that every 18.6 years, the moon skims especially low over the southern hills like a god visiting earth. Wise people who lived long lives must have noticed this unusual occurrence. A thousand years after it was built, Callanish was abandoned and the area inside the circle leveled. It is not known whether this was for agriculture of for ritual cleansing. The climate started to change around that time, becoming colder and wetter. This climate change caused the peat to grow deeper and deeper until the stones were almost buried. When the peat was cut in 1857, their true height was again revealed. In the 17th century local people called them "false men." In 1885 the main circle was taken into state care.
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