The Megalithic monuments Are constructions composed of one or several blocks of large carved stone. Its construction and emplacement correspond to the Neolithic period and the Bronze Age between 4500 and 1000 BC. This form of stony art was used in ceremonial structures, tombs, shrines and other types of monumental architecture.
The construction and adjustment of these prehistoric structures can be quite sophisticated. Rocks of specific shapes were carved to meet certain specific requirements, while the buildings themselves were positioned relative to the stars or the solstice.
Apart from its unique architectural design, these megalithic monuments were typically decorated with a variety of rock art, petroglyphs, abstract signs and symbols, domes, among other representations.
Top 20 most popular megalithic monuments
1- Brú na Bóinne
Bru mna Bóinne is an area in County Meath, Ireland and is located on a meander of the River Boyne. It contains one of the most important prehistoric complexes that date back to the Neolithic period and consists of three sites known as Knowth, Newgrange and Dowth with more than 90 additional monuments.
This area has been human settlement for 6000 years, although the main structures are about 5000 years. The site is a complex of mounds, chamber tombs, standing stones and stone circles. It was built with an obvious knowledge of science and astronomy, which is most evident in Newgrange. The entire complex covers about 780 hectares and contains about 40 corridor tombs.
2- Zorats Karer
Also known as Karahunj, Quarahunj or Carahunge, it is an archaeological site near the village of Sisian, in the province of Syunik, Armenia. The name of Zorats karer literally means"Stones that speak".
The monument is rich in demarcation stones, scythes and menhirs. A total of 223 stones have been recorded in total, with a height of 0.5 to 3 m and a weight of up to 10 tonnes. The central circle of the complex used to consist of 80 stones, of which only 37 are still erected. Such structures are believed to be used for astronomical observation.
3 - Megaliths of Locmariaquer
The megaliths of Locmariquer are a complex of Neolithic constructions in the homonymous region in Britania, France. These make up the corridor tomb of Er-Grah, a dolmen known as the Table des Marchand and the Menhir Er-Grah Party.
The latter is considered as the largest block of stone that was transported and erected by Neolithic people.
It was built around the year 4700 BC. And is believed to have been broken in 4000 BC. It measures 20.6 meters in height. With a weight of 330 tons. The origin of the rock is a risk located several kilometers from Locmariaquer.
4- Great Dolmen of Zambujeiro
The Great Dolmen of Zambujeiro is a megalithic monument located in Nossa Senhora da Tourega, in the municipality of Évora, Portugal. It is considered as one of the largest structures of its kind in the Iberian peninsula.
It is believed that this tomb was built around 4000-3000 BC. In 1965 an excavation of the site was carried out, being stone slabs, collars, croquettes, objects of copper and ceramics. In 1971 it was declared as a national monument and in 1983 a metal roof is built to prevent its deterioration.
Barnenez's Tomb is a Neolithic monument located near Plouezoch'h, on the Keneléhen peninsula in Britania, France. Its construction dates from the early part of the Neolithic period, about 4800 BC. It is considered as one of the first megalithic monuments in Europe and one of the oldest man-made structures in the world.
Today the tomb is 72 meters long, up to 25 meters wide and about 8 meters high. It was built from 13000 to 14000 tons of rock. It contains 11 cameras that are accessed by different passages.
The tomb itself consists of relatively small blocks of stone. Many symbols engraved in the chambers and passages of the complex can be found. These show arches, axes, wave or snake symbols, and repetitive U-shaped patterns and even anthropomorphic forms referred to as"The Goddess of Dolmen."
6- Crómlech de los Almendros
The Crómlech de los Almendros is a megalithic complex located near Guadalupe in the municipality of Évora, Portugal.
This site consists of varied megalithic structures such as the cromlech and menhir stones. The construction of this monument dates from the year 6000 a.C., not being discovered until the year 1966. The excavation of the site gave account of megalithic and Neolithic construction phases.
It is organized in a circular pattern and marked by about 95 granite monoliths deposited in small agglomerations.
At present, many of the stones have been unearthed and relocated according to criteria established according to the investigations on the site.
7- Rollright Stones
The Rollright Stones is a complex of three megalithic monuments from the Neolithic and Bronze Age periods located near the village of Long Compton between the Oxfordshire and Warwickshire boundaries in England.
These structures have particular designs and purposes and were built in different times of prehistory between 2000 and 4000 BC.
The first complex to be built was the Whispering Knights, which is a dolmen dating from the Middle Neolithic and whose purpose was the burial site. Next is the King's Men, which is a stone circle built in the late Neolithic or early Bronze Age and its use was that of rituals or point of trade.
The last monument is King Stone, which is a monolith built in the Bronze Age to mark the site of a tomb.
8- Taula de Menorca
A taula is a stone monument that can be found in Menorca, in the Balearic Islands, Spain. These can reach up to 3.7 meters in height and are composed of one or several monoliths covered with a horizontal stone that rests on them.
Usually each structure is accompanied by a U-shaped wall that surrounds it. They were built by Talayotic culture between 300 and 1000 BC. Most of these monuments are facing south, suggesting that their use was astronomical.
9- Temples of Tarxien
The temples of Tarxien are an archaeological complex located in the town of Tarxien in Malta. Its construction date is around 3150 BC. And today it is considered as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO.
Tarxien consists of three independent but connected temples. The entrance that can be found today is a reconstruction realized in an intervention that was made to the site in 1956. One of the most significant attractions is the rich work done on the stone, which shows worked of domestic animals along with designs in spiral and Other patterns (10).
10- Drombeg Circle
The Drombeg Stone Circle is a megalithic structure located east of Glandore, in County Cork, Ireland and is one of the most visited megalithic sites in Ireland. The circle originally consisted of 17 stones of 9.3 meters in diameter, of which only 13 survived.
The stone that is more to the east, has two marks of bowl of which one has a ring around. The monument is accompanied by a pair of stone portals of 1.8 meters high that form a south-east axis and that lead to the monument in the direction of the setting sun during the winter solstice.
11- Brownshill Dolmen
The Brownshill Dolmen is a megalithic portal tomb located east of Carlow, County Carlow, Ireland. It was built between 4000 and 3000 BC. By some of the first farmers who came to inhabit the island.
The entrance to the site used to be arranged by two large stones that supported the granite finish. Not much more information about the site is known since to date no archaeological excavation activities have been attempted on the site.
The Poulnabrone dolmen is a portal tomb located in Burren, County Clare, Ireland. Its construction dates from the Neolithic period probably between 422 and 2900 BC. The dolmen consists of a stone roof of approximately 3.6 meters that is supported by two sets of parallel vertical stones that raise the ceiling to 1.8 meters above the ground.
The structure creates a chamber on a mound of 9 meters. It is believed that the tomb was used as a center of ceremonies until the Bronze Age and as signage on trade routes.
13- ġaġar Qim
Ġaġar Qim is a complex of megalithic temples located on the island of Malta. Its construction dates from the phase Ġgantija between the year 3600 and 3200 a.C. These structures are considered as one of the oldest religious sites on earth.
In 1992 it was recognized by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site. The temple builders used limestone for their construction and as a result has been affected by the passage of time through the millennia. The complex consists of a main temple and three megalithic structures located behind it.
Ġgantija is a complex of megalithic temples dating from the Neolithic period and located on the Island of Gozo, Malta. These structures are considered as one of the principal of its kind of all those that can be found in Malta.
These temples were site of fertility rites due to numerous statues found and associated with that practice. This monument comprises two temples and a third one that is incomplete and of which only the facade was constructed before being abandoned.
Its intricate construction generates astonishment since neither the wheel nor metal artifacts were available to the islanders at the time. These, as well as other temples in Malta, are built in such a way that its main facade is oriented in a southeasterly direction.
15- North Caucasus Dolmens
In the region of the Caucasus mountains, between Russia and Georgia, there is a concentration of megaliths, dolmens and stone mazes whose construction is estimated between 4000 and 2000 BC. Most of these structures are rectangular and composed of blocks of stones or carved into the stone itself, with a hole in its facade.
These dolmens occupy both sides of the mountain range in an area of 12000 square kilometers. Each rock used in its construction was carved in angles of 90 ° for the elusive or curve to make circles.
Unlike other similar monuments in Europe, the origin of these is still unknown to archaeologists. At present, about 3000 structures of this type have been found and over time new ones are still found.
16- Rujm el-Hiri
Rujm el-Hiri is a megalithic monument that is composed of concentric stone circle with a tomb in the center of them. It is located on the Golan Heights plateau 16 kilometers off the coast of the Sea of Galilee.
These structures are made of about 42000 basalt rocks in complete or incomplete circles. The outermost wall is 160 meters in diameter and 2.4 meters high.
Its construction is dated between 3000 and 2700 a.C. In the early Bronze Age. It is believed that this site was used for astronomical observation and as a stellar calendar. Others theorize that the site is connected with death cults.
17- Stones of Carnac
The stones of Carnac are one of the densest clusters of megalithic sites in the village of Carnac in Brittany, France. The complex consists of alignments, dolmens, tombs and menhirs.
More than 3000 units were carved from local stones during the Neolithic period, between 4500 and 3000 BC. At present there are three large groups of alignments Ménec, Kermario and Kerlescan, that previously could have become a single set, but many rocks have been removed for other purposes.
Also they can be found tombs that were built on a tomb and that they have a corridor that takes to a central camera. The dolmens that can be found are also believed to mark tomb sites.
18- Dolmen of Menga
The dolmen of Menga is a mound of tomb dating from 3000 BC. And is located near Antequera, Malaga province, Spain. This is considered as one of the oldest structures in Europe.
Its design is 25 meters long, 5 meters wide and 4 meters high and was built from 32 megaliths with an individual weight of 200 tons. After the chamber was built, it was covered by earth to form the hill that today forms.
In the 19th century, archaeological works were advanced at the site, where several hundred skeletons were found. This structure forms a complex together with the Dolmen of Viera and the Tholos of El Romeral.
19- Callanish Stones
The Callanish stones are a set of vertical stones located to form a cross pattern with a central circle. They are located in the village of Callanish on the west coast of Lewis in Scotland.
Its construction dates from the Late Neolithic period and was used as a site of rituals during the Bronze Age. The central circle consists of 13 stones with a monolith in the middle and five lines extending from it.
Between the central monolith and the east one is a chamber of 6.4 meters in length. The central circle was built between 2900 and 2600 BC, however, it is unclear whether the alignments were built at the same time or later.
It is believed that its use may have been a lunar observatory, although a relationship has also been proposed between the stones, the moon and the Clisham mountain range.
Stonehenge is a prehistoric monument located in Wiltshire, England. This site is located in the middle of extensive works on earth in a dense complex of Neolithic and Bronze Age monuments.
It is believed that the site was built between 3000 and 2000 BC. The circular earth bench surrounding it has been estimated to be built in 3100 BC. This site and its surroundings were added to the list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites in 1986. The site is currently owned by the British Crown and managed by English Heritage.
Stonehenge evolved into several stages of construction comprising about 1500 years. However, there is evidence of work around the site that could extend this period up to 6500 years.
Stonehenge is a product of a culture that left no written record. The great trilite, the horseshoe formed by the five central trilites and the avenue that crosses it are aligned to the twilight of the winter solstice and at the opposite dawn of the summer solstice.
There is no direct evidence of the methods that could be employed in the construction of the site, nor of how the stones could be transported without the aid of the wheel or a system of pulleys.
The most prevalent type of structure is the tomb portal known as dolmen. It is also known as dysse in Denmark, hunengrab in Germany, hunebed in Holland, tapir in Portugal, stazzone in Sardinia and cromlech in Wales.
The latter is typical because it consists of several vertical supports that are crowned by a flat slab of stone as a roof.
Most of the portals were roofed with mounds of earth, but in most cases those parts have faded over time. From this basic structure were developed the corridor tomb and the gallery tomb.
The corridor grave was basically formed by the addition of a long entrance passage to the dolmen itself. The entire structure was covered by a circular mound of earth occasionally delineated with a curb.
The gallery tomb was an elongated, rectangular burial chamber without an entrance passage. Like the type of corridor, the gallery also had a dirt roof.
Another type of monument that stands out is the menhir (from the Breton men meaning"stone"and hir meaning"long"), which consists of a single large vertical stone, located alone or in conjunction with a tomb. The menhirs were usually arranged in circular, semicircular, ellipses or parallel rows.
Two other types of structures are the taula, which is a vertical stone topped with another to form a"T"shape; And the Trilite, which consists of two vertical stones with a third horizontal covering them.
The true meaning behind the construction and use of megalithic stone structures remains uncertain. The evident effort in its construction and its abundance make presume that these sites were of great significance.
Despite being spread over a vast territory, many of the designs and engraves they present are common to each other.
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