Stonefaced: 7 Amazing Anthropomorphic Cliff Profiles

Sheer sea cliffs, steep mountain flanks and barren hillsides aren’t called “rock faces” for nothing; more than a few actually display familiar profiles.

Stac Levenish, Scotland

(image via: Geograph/Stephen Hodges)

The island of Stac Levenish (also known as Stac Leibhinis) is one of the more remote and inaccessible of Scotland’s Outer Hebrides. This ancient, eroded sea stack stands 62m (203 ft) tall roughly 2½ km off Village Bay on Hirta, the main island of the St Kilda archipelago. Some sources indicate that “Levenish” means “useless” in the local Gaelic dialect because birds refused to nest on it. Perhaps the presence of a 20-story high human face on one side of the isle might have something to do with that.

(images via: David Alexander Elder, Glasgow Digital Library and Rojabro)

Stac Levenish’s north cliff best displays the striking profile and from time immemorial those traveling to St Kilda from the east remarked upon the mammoth visage looming over them. The face can also be discerned from the opposite side of the isle though not quite as clearly. Scottish mountaineer Norman Heathcote, who made the first recorded ascent of Stac Levenish in 1900 (above left), described the climb as being “moderately difficult”. For him, maybe.

Romania’s Sphinx

(images via: WSU, Untapped Cities and 5th World)

High up in central Romania’s Bucegi Mountains, wind- and rain-driven erosion have carved enormous rock outcroppings into a variety of unusual and unlikely shapes. Perhaps the most famous of these is the Great Bucegi Sfinx, first recorded photographically from its optimum viewing angle in 1936. The 8m high by 12m wide (86ft by 39ft) “rockhead” can be found at an altitude of 2,216 metres (7,270 ft), and is said to be most distinctly seen at sunset every November 21st.