Megalithic. What does it mean? What is it? What does the word bring to mind, if anything? The term megalithic comes from the Ancient Greek, and literally translates to “great stone.” While “great stone” is certainly an accurate and literal depiction of the term, one must truly see a megalithic monument with their own eyes to really understand and appreciate the beauty and intensity of such a creation. Such a historical work of art.
While you may or may not be accustomed to the term, “Megalithic,” there's a good chance that you've probably heard of one of the most well known Megalithic monument in history, and that's Stonehenge. Stonehenge, which is located in the English county of Wilshire, and is believed to be created anywhere from 3000 – and 2000 BCE, is a true sight to see.
With stones as tall as 17 feet high, and weighing as much as 50 tons, Stonehenge is easily one of the most popularized monuments of its type. It's immense creation, which was continued over a period of thousands of years, continues to boggle the minds of those who view and study it's existence. When looking at Stonehenge, and truly comprehending the immensity of the entire monument, and just seeing how large the stones really are, one must question how something so magnificent could have been constructed so many years ago? Even today, the mystery of how this monument came to be remains, and although it has even garnered and created theories of everything from the work of alien life, to lost technological advancements; one thing is certain, and that is that this monument was incredibly important to the society that put so much work and effort into it's construction over the span of so many years.
Although Stonehenge's purpose and function is up for debate, and not necessarily set in stone (pun intended), the best answer, at least for now, is that it probably functioned as an astrological observatory and solar calender, as well as possible a religious site. While Stonehenge is certainly impressive, and a perfect example of a “Stone-Circle” type of Megalithic Monument, it's simply one of many, as well as one of the many TYPES of megalithic monuments that exist in Europe. In fact, Stonehenge is but one of around 900 other stone circle monuments in the British isles.
Apart from Stone Circle monuments such as Stonehenge, many other types of these constructions exist in Europe, dating all the way back to the Neolithic Period. From Megalithic tombs, which are above ground burial chambers, built of large stone slabs, or megaliths, laid on edge and covered with earth or other, smaller stones, to ditches and banks, broad terraces, circular enclosures known as henges, gravesites, standing stones, carlns, stone rows and more, all of which have their own intended purpose.
A good example of an ancient megalithic passage tomb, would be Ireland's Brú na Bóinne. Brú na Bóinne, which means the ‘palace’ or the ‘mansion’, refers to the area within the bend of the River Boyne which contains one of the world’s most important prehistoric landscapes. Believed to be built some 5,000 years ago during the Neolithic period, the Brú na Bóinne contains the largest assemblage of Megalithic art in Europe. It is believed that the initial construction of this site began around 3300 BC, and evidence suggests that during this time, the area had developed into an open farmland, which was scattered with domestic houses and buildings. With over 40 different passage tombs, the Brú na Bóinne reflects a society where rituals and ceremonies were of great importance. Not only were these tombs built with obvious care, but they also showed a great deal of sophistication, both in architecture, engineering, astronomy and artistic endeavor. This large kidney shaped mound, which covers an area of over one acre, not only shows the importance of honoring those who died, but also shows how important art and creation was to this society, as many of the curbstones...
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