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Visitor number boost to Calanais

9 July 2010

Visitor figures to one of the UK’s most significant monuments have soared in the first half of 2010.

Calanais standing stones

Urras nan Tursachan (The Standing Stones Trust), which manages the visitor centre at Lewis’ Calanais Stones is reporting an increase of 62 per cent in admissions compared to the same period last year.

Culture Minister Fiona Hyslop announced the increase following a visit to the prehistoric site – which is in the care of Scottish Ministers – to hear about the progress in representing the site with bilingual Gaelic and English interpretation panels and plans for the future management of the site.

The Minister said: “Calanais truly deserves its recognition as one of the world’s most incredible heritage sites and is an excellent example of partnership working between government and Urras nan Tursachan.

“We are committed to providing both Gaelic and English interpretation at the site to properly reflect the importance of the Gaelic language in the Western Isles. This work has been supported by Bord na Gaelic.

“Such an impressive increase in visitors at a time of economic difficulty is a testament to the enduring appeal and mystery of the standing stones and the dedication of the team here at the visitor centre. It clearly demonstrates how crucial our culture can be in attracting tourism and supporting the economy.”

Historic Scotland is working with Urras nan Tursachan on improving the interpretation and signage at the visitor centre and stones and last year, appointed a Gaelic Language Officer, Mairi Morrison, to develop a Gaelic education plan for the site.

As well as individuals and families, Calanais is a hugely popular stop off for passengers from visiting cruise ships. The Trust has taken on new staff and extended opening hours to meet the increased demands.

The site dates from between 2900 and 2600 BC, earlier than the main circle at Stonehenge, and there is evidence for around two thousand years of ritual activity at the site. It, and the surrounding satellites, is one of the most important surviving complexes of early prehistoric ritual monuments in the British Isles.

Peat preserved the site, leaving the taller stones visible, which revealed the rest of the site when the peat was removed in 1857. Two years before that it became one of the first historic sites to be taken into state care.


Notes for editors

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For further information

Lesley Brown
Communications and Media Officer
Communications and Media
0131 668 8603 or 07920 768100