This was a 'wonderful surprise'. Again, I have Margaret Curtis to thank for pointing it out. It was a very windy, chilly, bright day and I took a few minutes for myself to run and look at this stone. Some ancient sites induce a sensation of euphoria, this was definitely one of them - the wind, the rolling clouds and the blue sea in front of me gave me a momentary feeling of flying. What more can I say.
Photographed the information board and have reproduced the text below:
"In this field today stands a solitary standing stone almost 2 metres high, overlooking the Sound of Taransay. It has remained in this position for up to 5,000 years since the Neolithic period or Early Bronze Age. Across the Sound, another standing stone is set above the shore on the island of Taransay, and a third, Clach MhicLeoid, is on Aird Nisabost to the north-east. Over the years local legends have gathered around the stone. In one, a giantess was gathering limpets on the shore and, striking a stone with her hammer, it flew off in three pieces, which landed at each of the three sites.
The Scarista bardess Seonag NicSuain wrote a ‘Song of Steineagaidh Stone’
‘Some say in the village
(though unproven so far)
‘Tis a headstone of a chieftain
From Fingalian’s war.
Should arms and battle
Stir up, as of yore,
Won’t he have to struggle
From ‘neath Steineagaidh Stone
Each man will retire
In peace to sleep in pastures
But over Finlay’s land
The big stone will be watching’
When the stone was first raised, however, it was part of a complex prehistoric ritual site. In front of the stone stood a large circle of 12 or 13 atones more than 40 metres in diameter, indicated now by several fallen stones or the stony sockets in which they had stood. Behind the stone is also a large circular mound which, if contemporary with the circle, may be the remains of a burial cairn. Geophysical survey has shown that around all of this was a ditch, either man-made or natural, that defined the edges of the monument.
The scale and complexity of the original site, and its proximity to other standing stones, suggest that this was the this was the focus for prehistoric religious activity in Harris, as Calanais was for Lewis.
The field wall is said to have been built from the demolished houses of the Scarista tenants who were cleared from the area in the 19th century."
It was a beautiful day and the beach at Bagh Steingidh is simply stunning so we stopped for a few hours for fun and frolics. The fact the beach is overlooked by an impressive standing stone is of course a welcome bonus!
I first approached the stone from across the rocks on the beach but later went back for a second visit and this time chose the easier way from the main road. I am glad I did this as there is now a very good information board near the gate giving access to the field.
It appears the highland cow is now housed in the field on the opposite side of the road – next to the house.
The standing stone is approx 2 metres tall x 1.3 metres across. ‘Hairy’ green lichen covers the stone on the side facing the sea. I counted 6 fallen stones sticking out of the grass – 1 large and the rest just the tips of stones. These were part of the original stone circle as described on the information board.
The information board also refers to a cairn next to the standing stone. There is a mound visible approx 10 metres across x 0.5 metres high - more pronounced on the seaward side.
The views from the stone are fantastic. Blue skies, white sand and clear turquoise water. The scenery is spectacular. Harris really is a beautiful place.
I took this opportunity to ask Karen a very important question – I am pleased to say I received a positive response. No doubt I will remember this visit for a long time!
Visited 5th August 2004: On the Ordnance Survey map Sgarasta looks pretty accessible, sitting as it does just off the A859. I hadn't anticipated the cows though. The farmer had kindly placed a 'Beware Highland Cattle' sign on the gate as a warning, but the presence of the cows on the other side of the wall rendered it unnecessary.
In the sunshine the stone and the views looked gorgeous, and I wasn't about to back down. The cows watched me intently as I climbed over the gate and after a moment of hesitation I decided not to run for the stone. I casually strolled in a respectful arc around the cattle and kept up the same sort of pace until I got to the stone (it unnerved me having my back to them).
What a great stone! What a great view. The mountains and the sand make for a staggering back-drop. I nearly forgot about my bovine audience. Despite the road, this place has a real feeling of solitude. Not much time to enjoy the ambience though because everyone else was waiting in the car. We spent the afternoon on the beach (Bàgh Steingidh) within site of the stone. Highly recommended!
After the slightly "over the top" nature of Lewis and its many sites, coming across this stone on Harris was refreshing and exciting. We actually drove straight by this site, so unobtrusive it appears and yet right by the road...
The backdrop of sea, sand and cliffs was perfect (with the highland cattle close by for a truly Scottish moment!)
The lichen almost covered the stone on both sides - a testimony to the endurance of the site. Despite the rain, I was quite happy to just stand there, taking in the landscape and the elements... I would strongly advise any travellers who make it over to Lewis to visit the Callanish sites, to also make the journey south to Harris. You will find incredible landscapes and a couple of sites that are well worth the visit - and with no other tourists for miles around!
On the top of a high stone in Scaristavor parks, the raven will drink its fill of men's blood [..]
This stone is about ten ft. high, and is one of the three fragments into which a larger stone, used by an old woman of former days as a hammer to knock limpets off the rocks (ord bhairneach) was broken. Of the other two, one is in Uigh an du tuath, and one in Tarnsa Islet. At a spot from which these three fragments can be seen, there is hidden an urn of silver and an urn of gold (croggan oir's cr. airgid). It is easy to find a place whence one can see two, but when about to see the third, one of the first two disappears. Five or six yards make all the difference. A herdsman once found the spot, but when digging for the treasure he happened to see a heifer that had fallen on its back in a stream. He ran to its rescue, and never could find the place again.