Airigh nam Bidearan, Lewis
|A page describing the ancient alignment at Airigh nam Bidearan on Lewis, Hebrides|
Standing stone alignment NB234299
How to find: Take the B8011 south from Garynahine for 1.5 km. Stop near the stone circle which is visible just west of the road. On the opposite side of the road to the circle is a farm track. Walk up this farm track past some sheep pens, and onto the moorland, where the small standing stones are visible to the east. (This site is also sometimes called 'Callanish V').
Best time of year to visit: Lunar major standstill - midsummer full moon.
Several stones can be seen and survive as unquestionably set up by human hand here on the moorland. All are small and unspectacular, and could hardly contrast more strongly with the striking stone circles in the same area.
At least three of the stones at Airigh nam Bidearan are set in a straight line and have been interpreted as an astronomical marker for the extreme position of the moon1,2,3.
To the north-west, an azimuth of 343.3° with a a horizon altitude of half a degree gives a declination of +30.4°, beyond the extreme setting position of the moon.
To the south-east, the line of stone leads the eye to a prominent natural boulder on rising ground nearby, and beyond and above that to mountains 16km distant. This line has a bearing of 163.3°, horizon altitude 1.1°, which gives a declination of -29.7°, the position of the rising moon at its southernmost position.
There is no doubt that this is an accurate astronomical line, and the site is well known for this reason. However, it must be said that the small, straggling stones on the moor give more of the appearance of the remains of prehistoric field walls, which have been engulfed by the rise of the peat around them. Visit and judge for yourself!
It may also be noted that from this
site the midsummer sun sets over the stones of the great Callanish alignment,
just visible but mostly below the horizon 3km away. This is likely to
be only coincidence.