Proposals have been put forward to charge an admission fee to visit the world-famous Callanish (Calanais) Standing Stones on the Isle of Lewis.

The Standing Stones are a renowned Hebridean site, on west of the island. A cross-shaped setting of ancient monoliths erected 5,000 years ago, they predate Stonehenge and were an important place for ritual activity for at least 2,000 years.

As first revealed by The Guardian, Historic Environment Scotland (HES) is proposing a single admission charge as part of plans to establish Calanish as a “true world-class heritage attraction”.

HES confirmed it is working in partnership with Urras nan Tursachan (UnT), who run the visitor centre, as part of their plans to significantly upgrade their current visitor infrastructure. 

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Any admission charge for the site would require approval from Scottish Ministers. HES said that a request to Scottish Ministers has not yet been submitted.

A spokesperson for HES told The Herald: “The Calanais Standing Stones is a key destination for visitors to the Western Isles and these redevelopment plans will provide a multitude of socio-economic benefits to the local community from increased tourism spend to employment opportunities. 

“As part of the plans, we are working with UnT to develop a holistic operation at the site to deliver an improved visitor experience and support conservation costs to the monument.

“The project has received support from the Islands Growth Deal, and we are also providing UnT with advice on their business case submission to the Islands Growth Deal Programme Board for approval by the UK and Scottish Governments.

“As part of our partnership plans, there are proposals to invest in the site and associated visitor facilities which will bring the Calanais Standing Stones and Calanais Visitor Centre together into a single, coherent visitor destination, and establish the site as a true world-class heritage attraction.

"As part of the plans, a single admission charge is proposed. Under the scheme of delegation, any admission charge for the site would require approval from Scottish Ministers. 

“We are in discussions with UnT and Scottish Government, however, a request to Scottish Ministers has not yet been submitted.”