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European Megalithic Culture

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Author Topic: European Megalithic Culture  (Read 14932 times)
Robin Barquenast
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« on: July 23, 2007, 09:39:22 pm »

Types of megaliths

The most common type of megalithic construction in Europe is the dolmen – 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, and it is debatable whether use for burial site was their primary function. Though generally known as dolmens, many local names exist, such as anta in Portugal, stazzone in Sardinia, hunnebed in Holland, Hünengrab in Germany, dys in Denmark, and cromlech in Wales.

Another type of megalithic monument that occurs throughout the culture area is the single standing stone, or menhir. Some of these have been shown to have an astronomical function as a marker or foresight, and in some areas long and complex alignments of such stones exist – most famously at Carnac in Brittany.

In the British Isles the best-known type of megalithic construction is the stone circle, of which there are hundreds of examples, including Stonehenge and Avebury. These too display clear evidence of astronomical alignments, both solar and lunar. Stonehenge, for example, is famous for its solstice alignment (though whether this was originally intended to mark the winter solstice, rather than the summer, is open to question). Examples of stone circles, though rare, are also found in Continental Europe
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