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Carved island stones inspire music and art for new schools exhibition

10 September 2012

Ancient carved stones in the Outer Hebrides have inspired an arts project at two primary schools, which will form the centrepiece of a new exhibition at Calanais Visitor Centre starting next week.

“Carved Identities” has involved primary pupils from Leverburgh and Stornoway, who based their visual and musical creations on historic stones at St Clements’ Church on Harris, and Calanais on Lewis respectively.

Historic Scotland introduced pupils to the sites and conducted guided tours, to help raise cultural awareness and inform the projects.

At Historic Scotland, Learning Development Officer Kim Noble said: “This project engaged local youngsters with carved stones at Calanais and St Clement’s, where they visited the stones and imagined how the sites would have looked when they were erected.

“At Calanais, we asked them to think about how wind and weather may have worn the stones, to listen to the sounds around them, and think about the kind of people who would have been living here when they first appeared. We also discussed the music they would have been listening to, the sort of instruments they would have used, and set about writing our own music based on the pupils’ experiences of the stones.

“The Leverhulme Primary group used carvings from St Clement’s Church in a similar way, interpreting their experiences instead into a visual artwork capturing the story of the stones.”

Calanais Standing Stones date to around 3,000BC, and their cross-shaped alignment is believed to have served as an astronomical observatory. The site was in use for approximately 1,000 years.

On Harris, St Clement’s Church was built in the first half of the sixteenth century by Alexander MacLeod. It is the only church in the west of Scotland dedicated to this saint, and Alexander’s tomb is one of the nation’s finest burial monuments.

The original music and artwork inspired by the two sites will go on display at Calanais Visitor Centre for a month, from Monday, September 17th. Entry is free, and the Centre is open from 9am till 6pm daily, Monday to Saturday.

Notes for editors

1.Historic Scotland is an executive agency of the Scottish Government charged with ensuring that our historic environment provides a strong foundation for a successful future for Scotland. The agency is fully accountable to Scottish Ministers and through them to the Scottish Parliament. For more information visit  

2.To register for media release email alerts from If you wish to unsubscribe at any time, please email   

3.The Year of Creative Scotland began on January 1, 2012 and will spotlight and celebrate Scotland’s cultural and creative strengths on a world stage. Through a dynamic and exciting year-long programme of activity celebrating our world-class events, festivals, culture and heritage, the year puts Scotland’s culture and creativity in the international spotlight with a focus on cultural tourism and developing the events industry and creative sector in Scotland. More information about the programme can be found at:

4.The Year of Creative Scotland is a Scottish Government initiative led in partnership by EventScotland, VisitScotland, Creative Scotland and VOCAL. More information and resources to help businesses engage with Year of Creative Scotland are available at

Year of Creative Scotland 2012

For further information

Iona Matheson
Communications and Media Officer
Communications and Media
0131 668 8703 or 07827 956 858