Types and definitions
A megalith is a large stone that has been used to construct a structure or monument, either alone or together with other stones. The adjective “megalithic” describes structures made of such large stones without the use of mortar or concrete, as well as the periods of prehistory characterised by such constructions. For later periods the term monolith, with an overlapping meaning, is more likely to be used.
The word was first used in 1849 by the British antiquarian Algernon Herbert in reference to Stonehenge and derives from the Ancient Greek mégas (“great”) and líthos (“stone”). There are over 35,000 megaliths in Europe alone, ranging from Sweden to the Mediterranean sea.
A variety of large stones are seen as megaliths, with the most widely known megaliths not being sepulchral. The construction of these structures took place mainly in the Neolithic (though earlier Mesolithic examples are known) and continued into the Chalcolithic and Bronze Age.
Megaliths were used for a variety of purposes ranging from serving as boundary markers of territory, to a reminder of past events, and to being part of the society’s religion. Common motifs including crooks and axes seem to be symbols of political power, much as the crook was a symbol of Egyptian pharaohs.
Amongst the indigenous peoples of India, Malaysia, Polynesia, North Africa, North America, and South America, the worship of these stones, or the use of these stones to symbolize a spirit or deity, is a possibility.
In the early 20th century, some scholars believed that all megaliths belonged to one global “Megalithic culture”, but this has long been disproved by modern dating methods. Nor is it believed any longer that there was a pan-European megalithic culture, although regional cultures existed, even within such small areas as the British Isles.
The archaeologist Euan Mackie wrote, “Likewise it cannot be doubted that important regional cultures existed in the Neolithic period and can be defined by different kinds of stone circles and local pottery styles. No-one has ever been rash enough to claim a nationwide unity of all aspects of Neolithic archaeology!”
At a number of sites in southeastern Turkey, large ceremonial complexes with large T-shaped megalithic orthostats, dating from the Pre-Pottery Neolithic (PPN, c. 9600–7000 cal BCE), have been discovered. They belong to the incipient phases of agriculture and animal husbandry. Large circular structures involving carved megalithic orthostats are a typical feature, e.g. at Nevali Cori and Gobekli Tepe.
Parts of the oldest level (III) at Göbekli Tepe have been C14-dated as far back as to the mid-10th millennium BCE (cal). On this level, 20 great stone circles (up to 20 meters in diameter) with standing stones up to 7 meters high have been identified. At least 5 of these circles have so far (per 2019) been excavated.
Many of the standing stones are richly ornamented with carved reliefs of “[b]ears, boars, snakes, foxes, wildcats, aurochs, gazelle, quadruped reptiles, birds, spiders, insects, quadrupeds, scorpions” and many other animals; in addition, some of the stones are carved in low profile with stylized human features (arms, hands, loincloths, but no heads).
On the younger level (II) rectangular structures with smaller megaliths have been excavated. In the surrounding area, several village sites incorporating elements similar to those of Göbekli Tepe have been identified. Four of these have Göbekli Tepe’s characteristic T-shaped standing stones, though only one of them, Nevalı Çori, has so far been excavated.
At Göbekli Tepe itself, no traces of habitation have so far been found, nor any trace of agriculture or cultivated plants, though bones of wild animals and traces of wild edible plants, along with many grinding stones, have been unearthed. It is thus assumed that these structures (which have been characterized as the first known ceremonial architecture) were erected by hunter-gatherers.
Göbekli Tepe’s oldest structures are about 7,000 years older than the Stonehenge megaliths, and it is doubtful that any of the European megalithic traditions are derived from them. Although these structures are the most ancient megalithic structures known so far, it is not clear that any of the European Megalithic traditions are actually derived from them.
Dolmens and standing stones have been found in large areas of the Middle East starting at the Turkish border in the north of Syria close to Aleppo, southwards down to Yemen. They can be encountered in Iran, Lebanon, Syria, Israel, Jordan, and Saudi Arabia. The largest concentration can be found in southern Syria and a large area on both sides of the Jordan Rift Valley, with greater predominance on the eastern side. They date from the late Chalcolithic or Early Bronze Age.
Megaliths have also been found on Kharg Island and Pirazmian in Iran, at Barda Balka in Iraq. They occur first and foremost on the Golan Heights, the Hauran, and in Jordan, which probably has the largest concentration of dolmen in the Middle East. In Saudi Arabia, only very few dolmen have been identified so far in the Hejaz. They seem, however, to re-emerge in Yemen in small numbers, and thus could indicate a continuous tradition related to those of Somalia and Ethiopia.
A semicircular arrangement of megaliths was found in Israel at Atlit Yam, an ancient submerged Neolithic village off the coast of Atlit, Israel. It has been carbon-dated as to be between 6900 and 6300 BC, but is now under the sea. Among the features of the 10-acre site is a stone circle. It is a very early example, dating from the 7th millennium BC. The stones have cup marks carved into them and are arranged around a freshwater spring, which suggests that they may have been used for a water ritual.
The standing stone has a very ancient tradition in the Middle East, dating back from Mesopotamian times. Although not always ‘megalithic’ in the true sense, they occur throughout the Orient, and can reach 5 metres or more in some cases (such as Ader in Jordan). This phenomenon can also be traced through many passages from the Old Testament, such as those related to Jacob, the grandson of Abraham, who poured oil over a stone that he erected after his famous dream in which angels climbed to heaven (Genesis 28:10-22).
Jacob is also described as putting up stones at other occasions, whereas Moses erected twelve pillars symbolizing the tribes of Israel. The tradition of venerating standing stones continued in Nabatean times and is reflected in, e.g., the Islamic rituals surrounding the Kaaba and nearby pillars. Related phenomena, such as cupholes, rock-cut tombs and circles, also occur in the Middle East.
Nabta Playa at the southwest corner of the western Egyptian desert was once a large lake in the Nubian Desert, located 500 miles south of modern-day Cairo. By the 5th millennium BC, the peoples in Nabta Playa had fashioned the world’s earliest known astronomical device, 1,000 years older than, but comparable to, Stonehenge.
Research shows it to be a prehistoric calendar that accurately marks the summer solstice. Findings indicate that the region was occupied only seasonally, likely only in the summer when the local lake filled with water for grazing cattle. There are other megalithic stone circles in the southwestern desert.
Namoratunga, a group of megaliths dated 300 BC, was used by Cushitic-speaking people as an alignment with star systems tuned to a lunar calendar of 354 days. This discovery was made by B. N. Lynch and L. H. Robins of Michigan State University.
Additionally, Tiya in central Ethiopia has a number old megaliths. Some of these ancient structures feature engravings, and the area is a World Heritage Site. Megaliths are also found within the Valley of Marvels in the East Hararghe area.
In Western Europe and the Mediterranean, megaliths are, in general, constructions erected during the Neolithic or late stone age and Chalcolithic or Copper Age (4500-1500 BC). Perhaps the most famous megalithic structure is Stonehenge in England, although many others are known throughout the world.
The French Comte de Caylus was the first to describe the Carnac stones. Pierre Jean-Baptiste Legrand d’Aussy introduced the terms menhir and dolmen, both taken from the Breton language, into antiquarian terminology. He interpreted megaliths as gallic tombs. In Britain, the antiquarians Aubrey and Stukeley conducted early research into megaliths.
The megalithic structures of Malta are believed to be the oldest in Europe. Perhaps the most famous megalithic structure is Stonehenge in England. In Sardinia, in addition to dolmens, menhirs and circular graves there are also more than 8000 megalithic structure made by a Nuragic civilisation, called Nuraghe: buildings similar to towers (sometimes with really complex structures) made using only rocks. They are often near giant’s grave or the other megalithic monuments.
The French Comte de Caylus was the first to describe the Carnac stones. Pierre Jean-Baptiste Legrand d’Aussy introduced the terms menhir and dolmen, both taken from the Breton language, into antiquarian terminology. He mistakenly interpreted megaliths as Gallic tombs. In Britain, the antiquarians Aubrey and Stukeley conducted early research into megaliths.
In 1805, Jacques Cambry published a book called Monuments celtiques, ou recherches sur le culte des Pierres, précédées d’une notice sur les Celtes et sur les Druides, et suivies d’Etymologie celtiques, where he proposed a Celtic stone cult. This completely unfounded connection between druids and megaliths has haunted the public imagination ever since.
In Belgium, there is a megalithic site at Wéris, a little town situated in the Ardennes. In the Netherlands, megalithic structures can be found in the northeast of the country, mostly in the province of Drenthe.
Knowth is a passage grave of the Brú na Bóinne neolithic complex in Ireland, dating from c.3500-3000 BC. It contains more than a third of the total number of examples of megalithic art in all Western Europe, with over 200 decorated stones found during excavations.
The most common type of megalithic construction in Europe is the portal tomb — a chamber consisting of upright stones (orthostats) with one or more large flat capstones forming a roof. Many of these, though by no means all, contain human remains, but it is debatable whether use as burial sites was their primary function.
The megalithic structures in the northwest of France are believed to be the oldest in Europe based on radiocarbon dating. Though generally known as “dolmens,” the term most accepted by archaeologists is “portal tomb.”
However many local names exist, such as anta in Galicia and Portugal, stazzone in Sardinia, hunebed in the Netherlands, Hünengrab in Germany, dysse in Denmark, and cromlech in Wales. It is assumed that most portal tombs were originally covered by earthen mounds.
The second-most-common tomb type is the passage grave. It normally consists of a square, circular, or cruciform chamber with a slabbed or corbelled roof, accessed by a long, straight passageway, with the whole structure covered by a circular mound of earth. Sometimes it is also surrounded by an external stone kerb. Prominent examples include the sites of Brú na Bóinne and Carrowmore in Ireland, Maes Howe in Orkney, and Gavrinis in France.
The third tomb type is a diverse group known as gallery graves. These are axially arranged chambers placed under elongated mounds. The Irish court tombs, British long barrows, and German Steinkisten belong to this group.
Standing stones, or menhirs as they are known in France, are very common throughout Europe, where some 50,000 examples have been noted. Some of these are thought to have an astronomical function as a marker or foresight. In some areas, long and complex “alignments” of such stones exist, the largest known example being located at Carnac in Brittany, France.
In parts of Britain and Ireland a relatively common type of megalithic construction is the stone circle, of which examples include Stonehenge, Avebury, Ring of Brodgar and Beltany. These, too, display evidence of astronomical alignments, both solar and lunar. Stonehenge, for example, is famous for its solstice alignment.
Examples of stone circles are also found in the rest of Europe. The circle at Lough Gur, near Limerick in Ireland has been dated to the Beaker period, approximately contemporaneous with Stonehenge. The stone circles are assumed to be of later date than the tombs, straddling the Neolithic and the Bronze Ages.
Megalithic tombs are aboveground burial chambers, built of large stone slabs (megaliths) laid on edge and covered with earth or other, smaller stones. They are a type of chamber tomb, and the term is used to describe the structures built across Atlantic Europe, the Mediterranean, and neighbouring regions, mostly during the Neolithic period, by Neolithic farming communities. They differ from the contemporary long barrows through their structural use of stone.
There is a huge variety of megalithic tombs. The free-standing single chamber dolmens and portal dolmens found in Brittany, Denmark, Germany, Ireland, Netherlands, Sweden, Wales, and elsewhere consist of a large flat stone supported by three, four, or more standing stones. They were covered by a stone cairn or earth barrow.
In Italy, dolmens can be found especially in Sardinia. There are more than 100 dolmen dating to the Neolithic (3500–2700 BC) and the most famous is called Dolmen di Sa Coveccada (near Mores ).
During the Bronze Age, the Nuragic civilization built c. 800 Giants’ grave, a type of megalithic gallery grave that can be found throughout Sardinia with different structures. The earliest megalithic tombs in Sardinia are the circular graves of the so-called Arzachena culture, also found in Corsica, southern France and eastern Spain.
Dolmens are also in Apulia and in Sicily. In this latter region, they are small structures located in Mura Pregne (Palermo), Sciacca (Agrigento), Monte Bubbonia (Caltanissetta), Butera (Caltanissetta), Cava Lazzaro (Siracusa), Cava dei Servi (Ragusa), Avola (Siracusa), and Argimusco in Montalbano Elicona (Messina).
Dating to the Early Bronze Age (2200–1800 BC), the prehistoric Sicilian buildings were covered by a circular mound of earth. In the dolmen of Cava dei Servi, archaeologists found numerous human bone fragments and some splinters of Castelluccian ceramics (Early Bronze Age) which confirmed the burial purpose of the artefact.
Examples with outer areas, not used for burial, are also known. The Court Cairns of southwest Scotland and northern Ireland, the Severn-Cotswold tombs of southwest England and the transepted gallery graves of the Loire region in France share many internal features, although the links between them are not yet fully understood.
That they often have antechambers or forecourts is thought to imply a desire on the part of the builders to emphasize a special ritual or physical separation of the dead from the living.
The passage graves of Orkney, Ireland’s Boyne Valley, and north Wales are even more complex and impressive, with cross-shaped arrangements of chambers and passages. The workmanship on the stone blocks at Maeshowe for example is unknown elsewhere in northwest Europe at the time.
Megalithic tombs appear to have been used by communities for the long-term deposition of the remains of their dead, and some seem to have undergone alteration and enlargement. The organization and effort required to erect these large stones suggest that the societies concerned placed great emphasis on the proper treatment of their dead.
The ritual significance of the tombs is supported by the presence of megalithic art carved into the stones at some sites. Hearths and deposits of pottery and animal bone found by archaeologists around some tombs also implies that some form of burial feast or sacrificial rites took place there.
Further examples of megalithic tombs include the stalled cairn at Midhowe in Orkney and the passage grave at Bryn Celli Ddu on Anglesey. There are also extensive grave sites with up to 60 megaliths at Louisenlund and Gryet on the Danish island of Bornholm. Despite its name, the Stone Tomb in Ukraine was not a tomb but rather a sanctuary.
In association with the megalithic constructions across Europe, there are often large earthworks of various designs — ditches and banks (like the Dorset Cursus), broad terraces, circular enclosures known as henges, and frequently artificial mounds such as Silbury Hill in England and Monte d’Accoddi in Sardinia (the prehistoric step pyramid).
Many spirals are found through of Sardinia’ the best known is Perda Pinta of Mamoiada. It seems that spirals were an important motif for the megalith builders (see Megalithic Temples of Malta).
They have been found carved into megalithic structures all over Europe, along with other symbols such as lozenges, eye-patterns, zigzags in various configurations, and cup and ring marks. While not a written script in the modern sense of the term, these symbols are considered to have conveyed meaning to their creators, and are remarkably consistent across the whole of Europe.
Megaliths in South Asia are dated before 3000 BC, with recent findings dated back to 5000 BC in southern India. Megaliths are found in almost all parts of South Asia. There is also a broad time evolution with the megaliths in central India and the upper Indus valley where the oldest megaliths are found, while those in the east are of much later date.
A large fraction of these are assumed to be associated with burial or post burial rituals, including memorials for those whose remains may or may not be available. The case-example is that of Brahmagiri, which helped establish the culture sequence in south Indian prehistory. However, there is another distinct class of megaliths that do not seem to be associated with burials.
In South Asia, megaliths of all kinds are noted; these vary from Menhirs, Rock-cut burial, chamber tomb, dolmens, stone alignment, stone circles and anthropomorphic figures.
These are broadly classified into two (potentially overlapping) classes: Sepulchral (containing remains of the dead), or memorial stones where mortal remains along with funerary objects are placed; and Non-sepulchral including large patterned placement of stones over a wide area. The ‘non-sepulchral’ type is associated with astronomy and cosmology in South Asia and in other parts of the world.
In the context of prehistoric anthropomorphic figures in India it is unclear what these giant anthropomorphs symbolize. They usually occur in association with megalithic monuments and are located in megalithic burial grounds, and may have been connected with ancestor worship.
Megalithic burials are found in Northeast and Southeast Asia. They are found mainly in the Korean Peninsula. They are also found in the Liaoning, Shandong, and Zhejiang in China, the East Coast of Taiwan, Kyūshū and Shikoku in Japan, Đồng Nai Province in Vietnam and South Asia.
Some living megalithic traditions are found on the island of Sumba and Nias in Indonesia. The greatest concentration of megalithic burials is in Korea. Archaeologists estimate that there are 15,000 to 100,000 southern megaliths in the Korean Peninsula. Typical estimates hover around the 30,000 mark for the entire peninsula, which in itself constitutes some 40% of all dolmens worldwide.
Types and definitions
While “megalith” is often used to describe a single piece of stone, it can also be used to denote an item consisting of rock(s) hewn in definite shapes for special purposes. It has been used to describe buildings built by people from many parts of the world living in many different periods. The most widely known megaliths are not tombs.
- Menhir – the name in Western Europe for a single upright stone erected in prehistoric times. Sometimes called a “standing stone”
- Monolith – any single standing stone erected in prehistoric times. Sometimes synonymous with “megalith” and “menhir”; for later periods, the word monolith is more likely to be used to describe single stones.
- Capstone style – single megaliths placed horizontally, often over burial chambers, without the use of support stones.
- Alignments– multiple megaliths placed in relation to each other with intention. Often placed in rows or spirals. Some alignments, such as the Carnac Stones in Brittany, France consist of thousands of stones.
- Megalithic walls
- Stone circles – referred to as “cromlechs” in most languages, and sometimes in English
- Dolmen – a Megalithic form created by placing a large capstone on two or more support stones creating a chamber below, sometimes closed in on one or more sides. Often used as a tomb or burial chamber.
- Cist – a small stone-built coffin-like box or ossuary used to hold the bodies of the dead. Burials are megalithic forms very similar to dolmens in structure. These type of burials were completely underground. There were single- and multiple-chambered cists.
- Portals, doors, and gates
Timeline of megalithic construction
- c. 9500 BCE: Construction in Asia Minor (Göbekli Tepe); from proto-Hattian or else a yet-to-be-discovered culture (the oldest religious structure in the world).
- Submerged by around 7400 BCE: a 12m long monolith probably weighing around 15,000 kg found 40m under water in the Strait of Sicily south-west of Sicily whose function is unknown.
- c. 7000 BCE: Construction in proto-Canaanite Israel (Atlit Yam). Possibly first standing stones in Portugal.
- c. 6000 BCE: Constructions in Portugal (Almendres Cromlech, Évora)
- c. 5000 BCE: Emergence of the Atlantic Neolithic period, the age of agriculture along the western shores of Europe during the sixth millennium BC pottery culture of La Almagra, Spain nearby, perhaps precedent from Africa.
- c. 4800 BCE: Constructions in Brittany, France (Barnenez) and Poitou (Bougon).
- c. 4500 BCE: Constructions in south Egypt (Nabta Playa).
- c. 4400 BC: Constructions in Malta (Skorba temples).
- c. 4300 BCE: Constructions in south Spain (Dolmen de Alberite, Cádiz).
- c. 4000 BCE: Constructions in Brittany (Carnac), Portugal (Great Dolmen of Zambujeiro, Évora), France (central and southern), Corsica, Spain (Galicia), England and Wales, Constructions in Andalusia, Spain (Villa Martín, Cádiz), Construction in proto-Canaanite Israel c. 4000~3000 BC: Constructions in the rest of the proto-Canaanite Levant, e.g. Rujm el-Hiri and dolmens.
- c. 3700 BCE: Constructions in Ireland (Knockiveagh and elsewhere).
- c. 3600 BCE: Constructions in Malta (Skorba temples).
- c. 3600 BCE: Constructions in England (Maumbury Rings and Godmanchester), and Malta (Ġgantija and Mnajdra temples).
- c. 3500 BCE: Constructions in Spain (Málaga and Guadiana), Ireland (south-west), France (Arles and the north), Sardinia, Sicily, Malta (and elsewhere in the Mediterranean), Belgium (north-east), and Germany (central and south-west).
- c. 3400 BCE: Constructions in Sardinia (circular graves), Ireland (Newgrange), Netherlands (north-east), Germany (northern and central) Sweden and Denmark.
- c. 3300 BCE: Constructions in France (Carnac stones)
- c. 3200 BCE: Constructions in Malta (Ħaġar Qim and Tarxien).
- c. 3100 BCE: Constructions in Russia (Dolmens of North Caucasus)
- c. 3000 BCE: Constructions in Sardinia (earliest construction phase of the prehistoric altar of Monte d’Accoddi), France (Saumur, Dordogne, Languedoc, Biscay, and the Mediterranean coast), Spain (Los Millares), Sicily, Belgium (Ardennes), and Orkney, as well as the first henges (circular earthworks) in Britain.
- c. 2500 BCE: Constructions in Brittany (Le Menec, Kermario and elsewhere), Italy (Otranto), Sardinia, and Scotland (northeast), plus the climax of the megalithic Bell-beaker culture in Iberia, Germany, and the British Isles (stone circle at Stonehenge). With the bell-beakers, the Neolithic period gave way to the Chalcolithic, the age of copper.
- c 2500 BCE: Tombs at Algarve, Portugal. Additionally, a problematic dating (by optically stimulated luminescence) of Quinta da Queimada Menhir in western Algarve indicates “a very early period of megalithic activity in the Algarve, older than in the rest of Europe and in parallel, to some extent, with the famous Anatolian site of Göbekli Tepe”
- c. 2400 BCE: The Bell-beaker culture was dominant in Britain, and hundreds of smaller stone circles were built in the British Isles at this time.
- c. 2000 BCE: Constructions in Brittany (Er Grah), Italy : (Bari); Sicily (Cava dei Servi, Cava Lazzaro);, and Scotland (Callanish). The Chalcolithic period gave way to the Bronze Age in western and northern Europe.
- c. 1800 BCE: Constructions in Italy (Giovinazzo).
- c. 1800 BCE: The nuragic civilisation in Sardinia
- c. 1500 BCE: Constructions in Portugal (Alter Pedroso and Mourela).
- c. 1400 BCE: Burial of the Egtved Girl in Denmark, whose body is today one of the best-preserved examples of its kind.
- c. 1200 BCE: Last vestiges of the megalithic tradition in the Mediterranean and elsewhere come to an end during the general population upheaval known to ancient history as the Invasions of the Sea Peoples.
Four megalithic sundials: geometrical and astronomical analyses
The Megalithic Portal
List of megalithic sites
Megalithic monuments in Europe
Irish Megalithic Tombs
Megaliths in Mecklenburg-Vorpommern
Megaliths in the Urals
Nordic megalith architecture
Construction of a megalith grave
Dolmens = tombs resembling “houses of the dead,” the walls are upright stones and the roof is a single giant slab
Cromlechs = a circle of large upright stones, or Dolmens
Menhirs = simplest megalithic form, unpright slabs that served as grave markers
Corbeling = rows or layers of stone laid with the end of each row projecting beyond the row beneath, progressing until layers almost meet and can be capped with a stone that rests on both layers
Portasar – Gobekli tepe
Göbekli Tepe (“Potbelly Hill”) is a Neolithic hilltop sanctuary erected at the top of a mountain ridge in the Southeastern Anatolia Region of Turkey, some 15 kilometers (9 mi) northeast of the town of Şanlıurfa (formerly Urfa / Edessa). It is the oldest known human-made religious structure. The site was most likely erected in the 10th millennium BCE and has been under excavation since 1994 by German and Turkish archaeologists. Together with Nevalı Çori, it has revolutionized understanding of the Eurasian Neolithic.
Zorats Karer, also called Karahunj or Carahunge) is an ancient archaeological site near the city of Sisian in the Syunik province of Armenia.
Nabta Playa was once a large basin in the Nubian Desert, located approximately 800 kilometers south of modern day Cairo or about 100 kilometers west of Abu Simbel in southern Egypt, 22° 32′ north, 30° 42′ east. Today the region is characterized by numerous archaeological sites.
By the 7th millennium BC, exceedingly large and organized settlements were found in the region, relying on deep wells for sources of water. Huts were constructed in straight rows. Sustenance included fruit, legumes, millets, sorghum and tubers. Also in the late 7th millennium BC, but a little later than the time referred to above, imported goats and sheep, apparently from Southwest Asia, appear. Many large hearths also appear.
By the 6th millennium BC, evidence of a prehistoric religion or cult appears, with a number of sacrificed cattle buried in stone-roofed chambers lined with clay. It has been suggested that the associated cattle cult indicated in Nabta Playa marks an early evolution of Ancient Egypt’s Hathor cult.
By the 5th millennium BC these peoples had fashioned one of the world’s earliest known archeoastronomical devices (roughly contemporary to the Goseck circle in Germany and the Mnajdra megalithic temple complex in Malta). Research suggests that it may have been a prehistoric “calendar” marking the summer solstice.
Stonehenge is a prehistoric monument in the English county of Wiltshire, about 2 miles (3.2 km) west of Amesbury and 8 miles (13 km) north of Salisbury. One of the most famous sites in the world, Stonehenge is the remains of a ring of standing stones set within earthworks. It is in the middle of the most dense complex of Neolithic and Bronze Age monuments in England, including several hundred burial mounds.
Archaeologists believe it was built anywhere from 3000 BC to 2000 BC, as described in the chronology below. Radiocarbon dating in 2008 suggested that the first stones were raised between 2400 and 2200 BC, whilst another theory suggests that bluestones may have been raised at the site as early as 3000 BC. The surrounding circular earth bank and ditch, which constitute the earliest phase of the monument, have been dated to about 3100 BC.
Archaeological evidence found by the Stonehenge Riverside Project in 2008 indicates that Stonehenge could have been a burial ground from its earliest beginnings. The dating of cremated remains found on the site indicate that deposits contain human bone from as early as 3000 BC, when the ditch and bank were first dug. Such deposits continued at Stonehenge for at least another 500 years. The site is a place of religious significance and pilgrimage in Neo-Druidry.
Knowth (Irish: Cnoghbha) is a Neolithic passage grave and an ancient monument of Brú na Bóinne in the valley of the River Boyne in Ireland. Knowth is the largest of all passage graves situated within the Brú na Bóinne complex. The site consists of one large mound (known as Site 1) and 17 smaller satellite tombs. The large mound has been esitimated to date from between 2500 and 2000 BC.
Essentially Knowth (Site 1) is a large mound (about 12 metres (40 ft) high and 67 metres (220 ft) in diameter, covering roughly a hectare) and contains two passages, placed along an east-west line. It is encircled by 127 kerbstones (three of which are missing and four of which are badly damaged).
The Funnel (-neck-) beaker culture, short TRB or TBK from (German) Trichter (-rand-) becherkultur (ca 4100 BC–ca 2800 BC) was an archaeological culture in north-central Europe.
It developed as a technological merger of local neolithic and mesolithic techno-complexes between the lower Elbe and middle Vistula rivers, introducing farming and husbandry as a major source of food to the pottery-using hunter-gatherers north of this line.
Preceded by Lengyel-influenced STK groups/Late Lengyel in the southeast, Rössen groups in the southwest and the Ertebølle-Ellerbek groups in the north, the TRB techno-complex is divided into a northern group including modern northern eastalbingian Germany and southern Scandinavia (TRB-N, roughly the area that previously belonged to the Ertebølle-Ellerbek complex), a western group between Zuiderzee and lower Elbe, an eastern group centered around the Vistula catchment, roughly ranging from Oder to Bug, and south-central groups (TRB-MES, Altmark) around the middle and upper Elbe and Saale. Especially in the southern and eastern groups, local sequences of variants emerged.
In the late 4th millennium BC, the Globular Amphora culture (KAK) replaced most of the eastern and subsequently also the southern TRB groups, reducing the TRB area to modern northern Germany and southern Scandinavia. The younger TRB in these areas was superseded by the Single Grave culture (EGK) at about 2800 BC. The north-central European megaliths were built primarily during the TRB era.
France, 6500 BC, 33 feet
Germany, Granitz dolmen, Neolithic
Wales: Cromlech. c. 5000 BC
Ireland: Poulnabrone portal tomb
England: Cup and ring marks