New evidence of a massive lightning strike at the centre of a hidden stone circle in the Outer Hebrides, may help shed light on why these monuments were created thousands of years ago.

View from Site XI or Airigh na Beinne Bige.

While studying the prehistoric Tursachan, the main stone circle at Calanais on the Isle of Lewis, the project team surveyed nearby satellite sites to reveal evidence for lost circles buried beneath the peat, uncovering a potential link between ancient stone circles and the forces of nature. This work is a collaboration with colleagues at St Andrews.

One rarely-visited site surveyed, known as Site XI or Airigh na Beinne Bige, consists of a single stone on an exposed hillside overlooking the great circle.

Professor Vince Gaffney in action!

Geophysical survey revealed that not only was the stone originally part of a circle of standing stones, but also that there was a massive, star-shaped magnetic anomaly in the centre – either the result of a single, large lighting strike or many smaller strikes on the same spot.

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