Calanais in the Community
A Vibrant Hub for the Isle of Lewis
Friends of Calanais
The Calanais Visitor Centre plays an essential role in the local community, contributing significantly to the economy of the region and raising awareness of the cultural and historical heritage of this ancient and transformative landscape. Urras nan Tursachan is committed to enriching as many aspects of the local community as we can, and to playing a leading role in the region’s heritage tourism industry. You can read more about the aims of the Trust here. Our local outreach work is ongoing and is broken down into several unique and important strands, all of which add value to the community in which we live and work.
Our Friends of Calanais scheme is an important aspect of our contribution to the communities of the Outer Hebrides. More than this, it is a recognition of how important our local stakeholders are, and is a tangible expression of our commitment to engage with as many members of the Calanais community as possible.
Members of the scheme enjoy a 10% discount in the Visitor Centre Café, free access to the Story of the Stones exhibition and a monthly newsletter containing research updates, news about our Calanais 2025 initiative, a comprehensive calendar of our upcoming events and regular discounts. If you’d like to become a Friend of Calanais and receive your exclusive discount, you can apply for a membership card today.
The Trust is comprised of five members, all of whom bring a range of valuable experiences and skill sets to the board, as well as their own unique connections with the Outer Hebrides. This gives us a valuable opportunity to engage in a regular, formal dialogue with our many stakeholders. This dialogue is an effective route for consultation regarding our Calanais 2025 project. It gives us the chance to discuss the needs and expectations of the Calanais community, and to develop a dialogue outlining how we might best achieve our shared goals.
In addition, our pledge to support those who live and work around the stones empowers us to work with a range of local organisations, charities, businesses and individuals for mutual benefit. The more we can reach out to those around us and develop projects within our community, the more we can support new initiatives, invest in change and create new and transformative local partnerships.
Each new community project helps to shape the future of Calanais. Do contact us if you would like to discuss ways in which we could work together to develop local opportunities.
The Calanais Visitor Centre is open throughout the year and facilitates a variety of exciting and engaging community events, designed to bring local people together and celebrate the wonder of this ancient and inspiring site.
Events Throughout the Year Include:
- Music sessions for all to enjoy
- A Christmas market celebrating the festive season in style
- The Dark Skies Festival, in partnership with An Lanntair Arts Centre
- Engaging in-person lectures featuring topics of interest to the community
- Children’s activities led by experienced Calanais staff
- Live online lectures illuminating the history of the stones and the diverse community surrounding them, featuring experts such as John Barber
- Calanais Conversations with the Prehistory Guys, subsequently hosted on YouTube for all to enjoy
- Gaelic events that prioritise the celebration and preservation of language and culture
Our exciting Calanais 2025 initiative draws together a range of community projects and is central to our mission to play a dynamic role in developing a sustainable future for the local area. You can find out more about our ambitious plans to redevelop and revitalise our community offer here CALANAIS 2025. We are also proud to have facilitated the important Year of Coasts and Waters Project, designed to explore the environmental history surrounding the Neolithic and later stone monument at Calanais. The project aimed to engage and train the local community in non-invasive ways of investigating and surveying the local landscape.
Local participants enjoyed days working as volunteers with archaeologists Jo Hambly and Richard Bates, helping to identify coastal erosion and learning how to record it accurately. This opportunity gave members of our community access to contemporary geophysics equipment, allowing them to look beneath the peat and discover more about the island’s prehistoric past. You can find out more about the project, and other initiatives that you can get involved with here.
Fundraising and Donations
The Calanais Visitor Centre aims to act as a fundraising hub for local good causes, with a portion of each donation we make coming directly from the income received by the Trust. Whether you stop for a cup of coffee and a delicious slice of cake at our Café, buy a souvenir at the Gift Shop or visit our Story of the Stones exhibition, your contribution makes a big difference to our work. We aim to regularly rotate the fundraising focus for our local charities and good causes, and work with a range of organisations within the community to ensure that diverse causes are represented over time. If you would like to nominate a charity or good cause for us to work in partnership with, please do contact us here.
A Community Moving Forwards
As we move forwards with our ambitious plans to reinvigorate the offer at the Visitor Centre, we are also redeveloping and broadening our outreach work in line with the needs of the local community.
Proposed Initiatives Developed with and for the Local Community Include:
- A Young Archaeologists Club for 8–16-year-olds, designed to encourage and educate young people interested in learning more about the site’s Neolithic past
- A guide programme for locals that offers volunteers the training and support needed to engage knowledgably with visitors to the Calanais Standing Stones, deepening community investment in the site
- A wider range of enhanced experiences at the Standing Stones and Visitor Centre including digital interpretations, kid’s quizzes, Gaelic-speaking tours and guided walks
- Supporting the development of meaningful and valuable experiences for young people through the Duke of Edinburgh and John Muir awards
- Developing an e-bike offering in and around Calanais, in partnership with the Carloway Estate Trust
- Pop-up events such as themed tours and solstice celebrations
- An artist-in-residence scheme
- Archaeological research and community outreach via a new outdoor learning initiative
- The development of the Stonechat blog as a community learning resource
If you’d like to find out more about supporting our ambitious community outreach programme, you can contact us here.
Explore the stones in person
Pre-booking essential for groups.