The Australian Celtic Standing Stones

Australian Celtic Standing Stones

In the Celtic lands of northwest Europe standing stones are a feature of the landscape. Of huge significance to the ancient ancestors of the peoples of Brittany, Cornwall, Isle of Man, Ireland, Wales and Scotland they were an essential part of ceremonial and spiritual life. Continuing to play a crucial role in the lives of the peoples of the Celtic nations, the direct descendants of the creators of the monuments, long after they were built. Employed by them in the veneration of the pre-Christian Celtic pantheon and in homage to their ancestors. Anyone visiting the cairns and stones of which there are many in all of the Celtic lands, feel the spiritual importance passed down through the centuries. The alignment to the landscape, stars and the winter and summer solstices continue to amaze those that visit these magnificent sites.

Remarkable then is the creation of the Australian Standing Stones, erected in Glen Innes some 3,500 years after the originals. Aligned in the same way, they are built to recognise the same points of importance as those in the Celtic lands so far away. This is no accident, for the Australian Standing Stones were erected as a monument to Australia’s Celtic Pioneers.

The three central stones are:

  • The Australia Stone representing Australia and the link between the new and old worlds.
  • The Gaelic Stone represents Scotland, Ireland and Isle of Man.
  • The Brythonic Stone represents Wales, Cornwall and Brittany

The general outline of the stones was inspired by the Ring of Brodgar in Scotland's Orkney Isles (Scottish Gaelic: Arcaibh). The Australian Stones comprise 40 granite monoliths. The standing stones have a circle of 24 stones representing the hours of the day, four cardinal stones marking true north, east, south and west and seven stones marking the longest and shortest days of the year at the winter and summer solstices. When looked at from above, the four cardinal stones and Melling family stone in the circle form the Southern Cross; the constellation of stars that can be clearly seen from the southern hemisphere. A Celtic Cross can also be seen when looking down at the four cardinal stones within the 24 stone circle. There are stones representing all of the six Celtic nations of Brittany, Cornwall, Wales, Ireland, Isle of Man and Scotland

Symbol of Celtic Council of Australia

The Australian stones project grew out of a group of enthusiastic people from Glen Innes, who sought to mark the Celtic heritage of Glen Innes where many of the first settlers who arrived in 1838 were Scottish. They made representations to the Celtic Council of Australia, who were seeking to have a national monument to honour all Celtic people who settled in Australia, as part of the country’s 1988 Bicentenary year. The opening ceremony was in 1992 and the stones are recognised as the national gathering point for Celtic descendants and clans by the Celtic Council of Australia.

Scottish Highlands Blackhouse

Adjacent to the circle is a replica Taigh Dubh (Black House). A traditional Celtic dwelling that was modelled on a Taigh Duhb that survived the Battle of Culloden in 1746. The Battle of Culloden (Scottish Gaelic: Blàr Chùil Lodair) saw the defeat of the Highland forces of Bonnie Prince Charlie by those led by the Duke of Cumberland, the son of the English King George II. The subsequent actions by the much hated English Duke earned him the title “Butcher Cumberland”. Opposing combatants were slaughtered. There then followed a brutal period of suppression in the Scottish Highlands with the banning of tartan and attempts to destroy Gaelic culture and the clan sytem by a process of terror against the civilian population. The term ‘Ethnic Cleansing’ would be applied today. The repercussions lasted for many decades and gave impetus to subsequent migration from Scotland to the ‘New World’.

The Australian Standing Stones are a remarkable testament to the survival of Celtic culture and the importance of the Celtic people in Australian life and history. Every year during the first weekend of May the annual Australian Celtic Festival is held at the site of the stones at Glen Innes. Each year participants from all Celtic backgrounds participate with a particular country being featured. See their site for details

Australian Celtic Festival logo

Further information