ROUGH STONE MONUMENTS AND THEIR BUILDERS
T. ERIC PEET
FORMERLY SCHOLAR OF QUEEN'S COLLEGE, OXFORD; LATELY CRAVEN FELLOW IN THE UNIVERSITY OF OXFORD AND PELHAM STUDENT AT THE BRITISH SCHOOL OF ROME
HARPER & BROTHERS LONDON AND NEW YORK 45 ALBEMARLE STREET, W. 1912
Published October, 1912.
The aim of this volume is to enable those who are interested in Stonehenge and other great stone monuments of England to learn something of the similar buildings which exist in different parts of the world, of the men who constructed them, and of the great archaeological system of which they form a part. It is hoped that to the archaeologist it may be useful as a complete though brief sketch of our present knowledge of the megalithic monuments, and as a short treatment of the problems which arise in connection with them.
To British readers it is unnecessary to give any justification for the comparatively full treatment accorded to the monuments of Great Britain and Ireland. Malta and Sardinia may perhaps seem to occupy more than their due share of space, but the usurpation is justified by the magnificence and the intrinsic interest of their megalithic buildings. Being of singularly complicated types and remarkably well preserved they naturally tell us much more of their builders than do the simpler monuments of other larger and now more important countries. In these two islands, moreover, research has in the last few years been extremely active, and it is felt that the accounts here given of them will contain some material new even to the archaeologist.
In order to assist those readers who may wish to follow out the subject in greater detail a short bibliography has been added to the book.
For the figures and photographs with which this volume is illustrated I have to thank many archaeological societies and individual scholars. Plate III and part of Plate II I owe to the kindness of Dr. Zammit, Director of the Museum of Valletta, while the other part of Plate II is from a photograph kindly lent to me by Dr. Ashby. I have to thank the Society of Antiquaries for Figures 1 and 3, the Reale Accademia dei Lincei for Figures 17 and 20, and the Societe prehistorique de France, through Dr. Marcel Baudouin, for Figure 10. I am indebted to the Royal Irish Academy for Figure 8, to the Committee of the British School of Rome for Figure 18, and to Dr. Albert Mayr and the Akademie der Wissenschaften in Munich for the plan of Mnaidra. Professors Montelius, Siret and Cartailhac I have to thank not only for permission to reproduce illustrations from their works, but also for their kind interest in my volume. Figure 19 I owe to my friend Dr. Randall MacIver. The frontispiece and Plate I are fine photographs by Messrs. The Graphotone Co., Ltd.
In conclusion, I must not forget to thank Canon F.F. Grensted for much help with regard to the astronomical problems connected with Stonehenge.
T. ERIC PEET.
LIVERPOOL, August 10th, 1912.
I. INTRODUCTION 1
II. STONEHENGE AND OTHER GREAT STONE MONUMENTS IN ENGLAND AND WALES 15
III. MEGALITHIC MONUMENTS IN SCOTLAND AND IRELAND 34
IV. THE SCANDINAVIAN MEGALITHIC AREA 52
V. FRANCE, SPAIN AND PORTUGAL 59
VI. ITALY AND ITS ISLANDS 76
VII. AFRICA, MALTA, AND THE SMALLER. MEDITERRANEAN ISLANDS 90
VIII. THE DOLMENS OF ASIA 114
IX. THE BUILDERS OF THE MEGALITHIC MONUMENTS, THEIR HABITS, CUSTOMS, RELIGION, ETC 123
X. WHO WERE THE BUILDERS, AND WHENCE DID THEY COME? 143
LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS
Stonehenge from the south-east Frontispiece
FACING PAGE I. Stonehenge from the south-west 17 II. Mnaidra, doorway of Room H. The Nuraghe of Madrone in Sardinia 82 III. Temple of Mnaidra, Malta. Apse of chief room 100
FIGURE PAGE 1. Plan of Stonehenge 16 2. Avebury and Kennet Avenue 23 3. Plans of English Long Barrows 31 4. Horned tumulus, Caithness 39 5. Plans of three dolmen-types 40 6. Type-plan of simple corridor-tomb 42 7. Type-plan of wedge-shaped tomb 44 8. Corridor-tomb at New Grange, Ireland 47 9. Corridor-tomb at Ottagarden, Sweden 53 10. Plan of La Pierre aux Fees, Oise, France 61 11. Chambered mound at Fontenay-le-Marmion, Normandy 63 12. Plan of La Grotte des Fees, Arles, France 65 13. The so-called dolmen-deity, Petit Morin, France 66 14. Plan of corridor-tomb at Los Millares, Spain 69 15. Section and plan of a talayot, Majorca 72 16. Section and plan of the nau d'Es Tudons 73 17. Elevation, section and plan of a Sardinian nuraghe 83 18. Plan of Giant's Tomb at Muraguada, Sardinia 87 19. Plan of stone circle at the Senam, Algeria 94 20. Plan of the Sese Grande, Pantelleria 97 21. Plan of the Sanctuary of Mnaidra, Malta 99 22. Dolmen with holed stone at Ala Safat 115
ROUGH STONE MONUMENTS
To the south of Salisbury Plain, about two miles west of the small country town of Amesbury, lies the great stone circle of Stonehenge. For centuries it has been an object of wonder and admiration, and even to-day it is one of the sights of our country. Perhaps, however, few of those who have heard of Stonehenge or even of those who have visited it are aware that it is but a unit in a vast crowd of megalithic monuments which, in space, extends from the west of Europe to India, and, in time, covers possibly more than a thousand years.
What exactly is a megalithic monument? Strictly speaking, it is a building made of very large stones. This definition would, of course, include numbers of buildings of the present day and of the medieval and classical periods, while many of the Egyptian pyramids and temples would at once suggest themselves as excellent examples of this type of building. The archaeologist, however, uses the term in a much more limited sense. He confines it to a series of tombs and buildings constructed in Western Asia, in North Africa, and in certain parts of Europe, towards the end of the neolithic period and during part of the copper and bronze ages which followed it. The structures are usually, though not quite invariably, made of large blocks of unworked or slightly worked stone, and they conform to certain definite types. The best known of these types are as follows: Firstly, the menhir, which is a tall, rough pillar of stone with its base fixed into the earth. Secondly, the trilithon, which consists of a pair of tall stones set at a short distance apart supporting a third stone laid across the top. Thirdly, the dolmen, which is a single slab of stone supported by several others arranged in such a way as to enclose a space or chamber beneath it. Some English writers apply the term cromlech to such a structure, quite incorrectly. Both menhir and dolmen are Breton words, these two types of megalithic monument being particularly frequent in Brittany. Menhir is derived from the Breton men, a stone, and hir, long; similarly dolmen is from dol, a table, and men, a stone. Some archaeologists also apply the word dolmen to rectangular chambers roofed with more than one slab. We have carefully avoided this practice, always classing such chambers as corridor-tombs of an elementary type. Fourthly, we have the corridor-tomb (Ganggrab), which usually consists of a chamber entered by a gallery or corridor. In cases where the chamber is no wider than, and hence indistinguishable from the corridor, the tomb becomes a long rectangular gallery, and answers to the French allee couverte in the strict sense. Fifthly, we come to the alignement, in which a series of menhirs is arranged in open lines on some definite system. We shall find a famous example of this at Morbihan in Brittany. Sixthly, there is the cromlech (from crom, curve, and lec'h, a stone), which consists of a number of menhirs arranged to enclose a space, circular, elliptical or, in rare cases, rectangular.
These are the chief types of megalithic monument, but there are others which, though clearly belonging to the same class of structure, show special forms and are more complicated. They are in many cases developments of one or more of the simple types, and will be treated specially in their proper places. Such monuments are the nuraghi of Sardinia and the 'temples' of Malta and Gozo.
Finally, the rock-hewn sepulchre is often classed with the megalithic monuments, and it is therefore frequently mentioned in the following pages. This is justified by the fact that it generally occurs in connection with megalithic structures. The exact relation in which it stands to them will be fully discussed in the last chapter.
We have now to consider what may be called the architectural methods of the megalithic builders, for although in dealing with such primitive monuments it would perhaps be exaggeration to speak of a style, yet there were certain principles which were as carefully and as invariably observed as were in later days those of the Doric or the Gothic styles in the countries where they took root.
The first and most important principle, that on which the whole of the megalithic construction may be said to be based, is the use of the orthostatic block, i.e. the block set up on its edge. It is clear that in this way each block or slab is made to provide the maximum of wall area at the expense of the thickness of the wall. Naturally, in districts where the rock is of a slabby nature blocks of a more or less uniform thickness lay ready to the builders' hand, and the appearance of the structure was much more finished than it would be in places where the rock had a less regular fracture or where shapeless boulders had to be relied on. The orthostatic slabs were often deeply sunk into the ground where this consisted of earth or soft rock; of the latter case there are good examples at Stonehenge, where the rock is a soft chalk. When the ground had an uneven surface of hard rock, the slabs were set upright on it and small stones wedged in beneath them to make them stand firm. Occasionally, as at Mnaidra and Hagiar Kim, a course of horizontal blocks set at the foot of the uprights served to keep them more securely in position. With the upright block technique went hand in hand the roofing of narrow spaces by means of horizontal slabs laid across the top of the uprights.
The second principle of megalithic architecture was the use of more or less coursed masonry set without mortar, each block lying on its side and not on its edge. It is quite possible that this principle is less ancient in origin than that of the orthostatic slab, for it usually occurs in structures of a more advanced type. Thus in simple and primitive types of building such as the dolmen it is most rare to find dry masonry, but in the advanced corridor-tombs of Ireland, the Giants' Graves and nuraghi of Sardinia, and in the 'temples' of Malta this technique is largely used, often in combination with the upright slab system. Indeed, this combination is quite typical of the best megalithic work: a series of uprights is first set in position, and over this are laid several horizontal courses of rather smaller stones. We must note that the dry masonry which we are describing is still strictly megalithic, as the blocks used are never small and often of enormous size.
Buildings in which this system is used are occasionally roofed with slabs, but more often corbelling is employed. At a certain height each succeeding course in the wall begins to project inwards over the last, so that the walls, as it were, lean together and finally meet to form a false barrel-vault or a false dome, according as the structure is rectangular or round. Occasionally, when the building was wide, it was impossible to corbel the walls sufficiently to make them meet. In this case they were corbelled as far as possible and the open space still left was covered with long flat slabs.
It has often been commented on as a matter of wonder that a people living in the stone age, or at the best possessing a few simple tools of metal, should have been able to move and place in position such enormous blocks of stone. With modern cranes and traction engines all would be simple, but it might have been thought that in the stone age such building would be impossible. Thus, for instance, in the 'temple' of Hagiar Kim in Malta, there is one block of stone which measures 21 feet by 9, and must weigh many tons. In reality there is little that is marvellous in the moving and setting up of these blocks, for the tools needed are ready to the hand of every savage; but there is something to wonder at and to admire in the patience displayed and in the organization necessary to carry out such vast pieces of labour. Great, indeed, must have been the power of the cult which could combine the force of hundreds and even thousands of individuals for long periods of time in the construction of the great megalithic temples. Perhaps slave labour played a part in the work, but in any case it is clear that we are in the presence of strongly organized governments backed by a powerful religion which required the building of temples for the gods and vast tombs for the dead.
Let us consider for a moment what was the procedure in building a simple megalithic monument. It was fourfold, for it involved the finding and possibly the quarrying of the stones, the moving of them to the desired spot, the erection of the uprights in their places, and the placing of the cover-slab or slabs on top of them.
With regard to the first step it is probable that in most cases the place chosen for a tomb or cemetery was one in which numbers of great stones lay on the surface ready to hand. By this means labour was greatly economized. On the other hand, there are certainly cases where the stones were brought long distances in order to be used. Thus, in Charente in France there is at La Perotte a block weighing nearly 40 tons which must have travelled over 18 miles. We have no evidence as to whether stones were ever actually quarried. If they were, the means used must have been the stone axe, fire, and water. It was not usual in the older and simpler dolmens to dress the stones in any way, though in the later and more complicated structures well-worked blocks were often used.
The required stones having been found it was now necessary to move them to the spot. This could be done in two ways. The first and simpler is that which we see pictured on Egyptian monuments, such as the tomb of Tahutihotep at El Bersheh. A rough road of beams is laid in the required direction, and wooden rollers are placed under the stone on this road. Large numbers of men or oxen then drag the stone along by means of ropes attached to it. Other labourers assist the work from behind with levers, and replace the rollers in front of the stone as fast as they pass out behind. Those who have seen the modern Arabs in excavation work move huge blocks with wooden levers and palm-leaf rope will realize that for the building of the dolmens little was needed except numbers and time.
The other method of moving the stones is as follows: a gentle slope of hard earth covered with wet clay is built with its higher extremity close beside the block to be moved. As many men as there is room for stand on each side of the block, and with levers resting on beams or stones as fulcra, raise the stone vertically as far as possible. Other men then fill up the space beneath it with earth and stones. The process is next repeated with higher fulcra, until the stone is level with the top of the clay slope, on to which it is then slipped. With a little help it now slides down the inclined plane to the bottom. Here a fresh slope is built, and the whole procedure is gone through again. The method can even be used on a slight uphill gradient. It requires less dragging and more vertical raising than the other, and would thus be more useful where oxen were unobtainable.
When the stones were once on the spot it is not hard to imagine how they were set upright with levers and ropes. The placing of the cover-slab was, however, a more complicated matter. The method employed was probably to build a slope of earth leading up from one side to the already erected uprights and almost covering them. Up this the slab could be moved by means of rollers, ropes, and levers, until it was in position over the uprights. The slope could then be removed. If the dolmen was to be partly or wholly covered with a mound, as some certainly were, it would not even be necessary to remove the slope.
Roughly speaking, the extension of megalithic monuments is from Spain to Japan and from Sweden to Algeria. These are naturally merely limits, and it must not be supposed that the regions which lie between them all contain megalithic monuments. More exactly, we find them in Asia, in Japan, Corea, India, Persia, Syria, and Palestine. In Africa we have them along the whole of the north coast, from Tripoli to Morocco; inland they are not recorded, except for one possible example in Egypt and several in the Soudan. In Europe the distribution of dolmens and other megalithic monuments is wide. They occur in the Caucasus and the Crimea, and quite lately examples have been recorded in Bulgaria. There are none in Greece, and only a few in Italy, in the extreme south-east corner. The islands, however, which lie around and to the south of Italy afford many examples: Corsica, Sardinia, Malta, Gozo, Pantelleria, and Lampedusa are strongholds of the megalithic civilization, and it is possible that Sicily should be included in the list. Moving westward we find innumerable examples in the Spanish Peninsula and in France. To the north we find them frequent in the British Isles, Sweden, Denmark, and North Germany; they are rarer in Holland and Belgium. Two examples have been reported from Switzerland.
It is only to be expected that these great megalithic monuments of a prehistoric age should excite the wonder and stimulate the imagination of those who see them. In all countries and at all times they have been centres of story and legend, and even at the present day many strange beliefs concerning them are to be found among the peasantry who live around them. Salomon Reinach has written a remarkable essay on this question, and the following examples are mainly drawn from the collection he has there made. The names given to the monuments often show clearly the ideas with which they are associated in the minds of the peasants. Thus the Penrith circle is locally known as "Meg and her Daughters," a dolmen in Berkshire is called "Wayland the Smith's Cave," while in one of the Orkney Isles is a menhir named "Odin's Stone." In France many are connected with Gargantua, whose name, the origin of which is doubtful, stands clearly for a giant. Thus we find a rock called the "Chair of Gargantua," a menhir called "Gargantua's Little Finger," and an allee couverte called "Gargantua's Tomb." Names indicating connections with fairies, virgins, witches, dwarfs, devils, saints, druids, and even historical persons are frequent. Dolmens are often "houses of dwarfs," a name perhaps suggested or at least helped by the small holes cut in some of them; they are "huts" or "caves of fairies," they are "kitchens" or "forges of the devil," while menhirs are called his arrows, and cromlechs his cauldrons. In France we have stones of various saints, while in England many monuments are connected with King Arthur. A dolmen in Wales is his quoit; the circle at Penrith is his round table, and that of Caermarthen is his park. Both in England and France we find stones and altars "of the druids"; in the Pyrenees, in Spain, and in Africa there are "graves of the Gentiles" or "tombs of idolaters"; in Arles (France) the allees couvertes are called "prisons" or "shops of the Saracens," and the dolmens of the Eastern Pyrenees are locally known as "huts of the Moors." Dolmens in India are often "stones of the monkeys," and in France there are "wolves' altars," "wolves' houses," and "wolves' tables."
Passing now to more definite beliefs connected with megalithic monuments, we may notice that from quite early times they have been—as indeed they often are still—regarded with fear and respect, and even worshipped. In certain parts of France peasants are afraid to shelter under the dolmens, and never think of approaching them by night. In early Christian days there must have been a cult of the menhir, for the councils of Arles (A.D. 452), of Tours (A.D. 567), and of Nantes (A.D. 658) all condemn the cult of trees, springs, and stones. In A.D. 789 Charlemagne attempted to suppress stone-worship, and to destroy the stones themselves. In Spain, where, as in France, megalithic monuments are common, the councils of Toledo in A.D. 681 and 682 condemned the "Worshippers of Stones." Moreover there are many cases in which a monument itself bears traces of having been the centre of a cult in early or medieval times. The best example is perhaps the dolmen of Saint-Germain-sur-Vienne, which was transformed into a chapel about the twelfth century. Similar transformations have been made in Spain. In many cases, too, crosses have been placed or engraved on menhirs in order to "Christianize" them.
Remarkable powers and virtues have been attributed to many of the monuments. One of the dolmens of Finistere is said to cure rheumatism in anyone who rubs against the loftiest of its stones, and another heals fever patients who sleep under it. Stones with holes pierced in them are believed to be peculiarly effective, and it suffices to pass the diseased limb or, when possible, the invalid himself through the hole.
Oaths sworn in or near a megalithic monument have a peculiar sanctity. In Scotland as late as the year A.D. 1438 "John off Erwyne and Will Bernardson swor on the Hirdmane Stein before oure Lorde ye Erie off Orknay and the gentiless off the cuntre."
Many of the monuments are endowed by the credulous with life. The menhir du Champ Dolent sinks an inch every hundred years. Others say that a piece of it is eaten by the moon each night, and that when it is completely devoured the Last Judgment will take place. The stones of Carnac bathe in the sea once a year, and many of those of the Perigord leap three times each day at noon.
We have already remarked on the connection of the monuments with dwarfs, giants, and mythical personages. There is an excellent example in our own country in Berkshire. Here when a horse has cast a shoe the rider must leave it in front of the dolmen called "The Cave of Wayland the Smith," placing at the same time a coin on the cover-stone. He must then retire for a suitable period, after which he returns to find the horse shod and the money gone.
STONEHENGE AND OTHER GREAT STONE MONUMENTS IN ENGLAND AND WALES
Stonehenge, the most famous of our English megalithic monuments, has excited the attention of the historian and the legend-lover since early times. According to some of the medieval historians it was erected by Aurelius Ambrosius to the memory of a number of British chiefs whom Hengist and his Saxons treacherously murdered in A.D. 462. Others add that Ambrosius himself was buried there. Giraldus Cambrensis, who wrote in the twelfth century, mingles these accounts with myth. He says, "There was in Ireland, in ancient times, a pile of stones worthy of admiration called the Giants' Dance, because giants from the remotest part of Africa brought them to Ireland, and in the plains of Kildare, not far from the castle of Naas, miraculously set them up.... These stones (according to the British history) Aurelius Ambrosius, King of the Britons, procured Merlin by supernatural means to bring from Ireland to Britain."
From the present ruined state of Stonehenge it is not possible to state with certainty what was the original arrangement, but it is probable that it was approximately as follows (see frontispiece):
There was an outer circle of about thirty worked upright stones of square section (Fig. I). On each pair of these rested a horizontal block, but only five now remain in position. These 'lintels' probably formed a continuous architrave (Pl. I). The diameter of this outer circle is about 97-1/2 feet, inner measurement. The stones used are sarsens or blocks of sandstone, such as are to be found lying about in many parts of the district round Stonehenge.
Well within this circle stood the five huge trilithons (a-e), arranged in the form of a horseshoe with its open side to the north-east. Each trilithon, as the name implies, consists of three stones, two of which are uprights, the third being laid horizontally across the top. The height of the trilithons varies from 16 to 21-1/2 feet, the lowest being the two that stand at the open end of the horseshoe, and the highest that which is at the apex. Here again all the stones are sarsens and all are carefully worked. On the top end of each upright of the trilithons is an accurately cut tenon which dovetails into two mortices cut one at each end of the lower surface of the horizontal block. Each upright of the outer circle had a double tenon, and the lintels, besides being morticed to take these tenons, were also dovetailed each into its two neighbours.
Within the horseshoe and close up to it stand the famous blue-stones, now twelve in number, but originally perhaps more. These stones are not so high as the trilithons, the tallest reaching only 7-1/2 feet. They are nearly all of porphyritic diabase. It has often been asserted that these blue-stones must have been brought to Stonehenge from a distance, as they do not occur anywhere in the district. Some have suggested that they came from Wales or Cornwall, or even by sea from Ireland. Now, the recent excavations have shown that the blue-stones were brought to Stonehenge in a rough state, and that all the trimming was done on the spot where they were erected. It seems unlikely that if they had been brought from a distance the rough trimming should not have been done on the spot where they were found, in order to decrease their weight for transport. It is therefore possible that the stones were erratic blocks found near Stonehenge.
Within the horseshoe, and near its apex, lies the famous "Altar Stone" (A), a block measuring about 16 feet by 4. Between the horseshoe and the outer circle another circle of diabase stones is sometimes said to have existed, but very little of it now remains.
The whole building is surrounded by a rampart of earth several feet high, forming a circle about 300 feet in diameter. An avenue still 1200 feet in length, bordered by two walls of earth, leads up to the rampart from the north-east. On the axis of this avenue and nearly at its extremity stands the upright stone known as the Friar's Heel.
In 1901, in the course of repairing the central trilithon, careful excavations were carried out over a small area at Stonehenge. More than a hundred stone implements were found, of which the majority were flint axes, probably used for dressing the softer of the sandstone blocks, and also for excavating the chalk into which the uprights were set. About thirty hammer-stones suitable for holding in the hand were found. These were doubtless used for dressing the surface of the blocks. Most remarkable of all were the 'mauls,' large boulders weighing from 36 to 64 pounds, used for smashing blocks and also for removing large chips from the surfaces. Several antlers of deer were found, one of which had been worn down by use as a pickaxe.
These excavations made it clear that the blue-stones had been shaped on the spot, whereas the sarsens had been roughly prepared at the place where they were found, and only finished off on the spot where they were erected.
What is the date of the erection of Stonehenge? The finding of so many implements of flint in the excavations of 1901 shows that the structure belongs to a period when flint was still largely used. The occurrence of a stain of oxide of copper on a worked block of stone at a depth of 7 feet does not necessarily prove that the stones were erected in the bronze age, for the stain may have been caused by the disintegration of malachite and not of metallic copper. At the same time, we must not infer from the frequency of the flint implements that metal was unknown, for flint continued to be used far on into the early metal age. Moreover, flint tools when worn out were simply thrown aside on the spot, while those of metal were carefully set apart for sharpening or re-casting, and are thus seldom found in large numbers in an excavation. We have, therefore, no means of accurately determining the date of Stonehenge; all that can be said is that the occurrence of flint in such large quantities points either to the neolithic age or to a comparatively early date in the copper or bronze period. It is unlikely that stone tools would play such a considerable role in the late bronze or the iron age.
At the same time it must not be forgotten that Sir Arthur Evans has spoken in favour of a date in the first half of the third century B.C. He believes that the great circles are religious monuments which in form developed out of the round barrows, and that Stonehenge is therefore much later than some at least of the round barrows around it. That it is earlier than others is clear from the occurrence in some of them of chips from the sarsen stones. He therefore places its building late in the round barrow period, and sees confirmation of this in the fact that the round barrows which surround the monument are not grouped in regular fashion around it, as they should have been had they been later in date.
Many attempts have been made to date the monuments by means of astronomy. All these start from the assumption that it was erected in connection with the worship of the sun, or at least in order to take certain observations with regard to the sun. Sir Norman Lockyer noticed that the avenue at Stonehenge pointed approximately to the spot where the sun rises at the midsummer solstice, and therefore thought that Stonehenge was erected to observe this midsummer rising. If he could find the exact direction of the avenue he would know where the sun rose at midsummer in the year when the circle was built. From this he could easily fix the date, for, owing to the precession of the equinoxes, the point of the midsummer rising is continually altering, and the position for any year being known the date of that year can be found astronomically. But how was the precise direction of this very irregular avenue to be fixed? The line from the altar stone to the Friar's Heel, which is popularly supposed to point to the midsummer rising, has certainly never done so in the last ten thousand years, and therefore could not be used as the direction of the avenue. Eventually Sir Norman decided to use a line from the centre of the circle to a modern benchmark on Sidbury Hill, eight miles north-east of Stonehenge. On this line the sun rose in 1680 B.C. with a possible error of two hundred years each way: this Sir Norman takes to be the date of Stonehenge.
Sir Norman's reasoning has been severely handled by his fellow-astronomer Mr. Hinks, who points out that the direction chosen for the avenue is purely arbitrary, since Sidbury Hill has no connection with Stonehenge at all. Moreover, Sir Norman determines sunrise for Stonehenge as being the instant when the edge of the sun's disk first appears, while in his attempts to date the Egyptian temple of Karnak he defined it as the moment when the sun's centre reached the horizon. We cannot say which alternative the builders would have chosen, and therefore we cannot determine the date of building.
Sir Norman Lockyer has since modified his views. He now argues that the trilithons and outer circle are later additions to an earlier temple to which the blue-stones belong. This earlier temple was made to observe "primarily but not exclusively the May year," while the later temple "represented a change of cult, and was dedicated primarily to the solstitial year." This view seems to be disproved by the excavations of 1901, which made it clear that the trilithons were erected before and not after the blue-stones.
Nothing is more likely than that the builders of the megaliths had some knowledge of the movements of the sun in connection with the seasons, and that their priests or wise men determined for them, by observing the sun, the times of sowing, reaping, etc., as they do among many savage tribes at the present day. They may have been worshippers of the sun, and their temples may have contained 'observation lines' for determining certain of his movements. But the attempt to date the monuments from such lines involves so many assumptions and is affected by so many disturbing elements that it can never have a serious value for the archaeologist. The uncertainty is even greater in the case of temples supposed to be oriented by some star, for in this case there is almost always a choice of two or more bright stars, giving the most divergent results.
Next in importance to Stonehenge comes the huge but now almost destroyed circle of Avebury (Fig. 2). Its area is five times as great as that of St. Peter's in Rome, and a quarter of a million people could stand within it. It consists in the first place of a rampart of earth roughly circular in form and with a diameter of about 1200 feet. Within this is a ditch, and close on the inner edge of this was a circle of about a hundred upright stones. Within this circle were two pairs of concentric circles with their centres slightly east of the north-and-south diameter of the great circle. The diameters of the outer circles of these two pairs are 350 and 325 feet respectively. In the centre of the northern pair was a cover-slab supported by three uprights, and in the centre of the southern a single menhir. All the stones used are sarsens, such as are strewn everywhere over the district.
An avenue flanked by two rows of stones ran in a south-easterly direction from the rampart towards the village of Kennet for a distance of about 1430 yards in a straight line.
At a distance of 1200 yards due south from Avebury Circle stands the famous artificial mound called Silbury Hill. It is 552 feet in diameter, 130 in height, and has a flat top 102 feet across. A pit was driven down into its centre in 1777, and in 1849 a trench was cut into it from the south side to the centre, but neither gave any result. It is quite possible that there are burials in the mound, whether in megalithic chambers or not.
South-west of Avebury is Hakpen Hill, where there once stood two concentric ellipses of stones. A straight avenue is said to have run from these in a north-westerly direction. Whether these three monuments near Avebury have any connection with one another and, if so, what this connection is, is unknown.
There are many other circles in England, but we have only space to mention briefly some of the more important. At Rollright, in Oxfordshire, there is a circle 100 feet in diameter with a tall menhir 50 yards to the north-east. Derbyshire possesses a famous monument, that of Arbor Low, where a circle is surrounded by a rampart and ditch, while that of Stanton Drew in Somerset consists of a great circle A and two smaller circles B and C. The line joining the centres of B and A passes through a menhir called Hauptville's Quoit away to the north-east, while that which joins the centres of C and A cuts a group of three menhirs called The Cove, lying to the south-west.
In Cumberland there are several circles. One of these, 330 feet in diameter with an outstanding menhir, is known as "Long Meg and her Daughters." Another, the Mayborough Circle, is of much the same size, but consists of a tall monolith in the centre of a rampart formed entirely of rather small water-worn stones. A similar circle not far from this is known as King Arthur's Round Table; here, however, there is no monolith. Near Keswick there is a finely preserved circle, and at Shap there seems to have existed a large circle with an avenue of stones running for over a mile to the north.
Cornwall possesses a number of fine monuments. The most celebrated is the Dance Maen Circle, which is 76 feet in diameter and has two monoliths to the north-east, out of sight of the circle, but stated to be in a straight line with its centre. Local tradition calls the circle "The Merry Maidens," and has it that the stones are girls turned into stones for dancing on Sunday: the two monoliths are called the Pipers. The three circles known as the Hurlers lie close together with their centres nearly in a straight line in the direction N.N.E. by S.S.W. At Boscawen-un, near Penzance, is a circle called the Nine Maidens, and two circles near Tregeseal have the same name. Another well-known circle in Cornwall is called the Stripple Stones: the circle stands on a platform of earth surrounded by a ditch, outside which is a rampart. In the centre is a menhir 12 feet in height.
At Merivale, in Somersetshire, there are the remains of a small circle, to the north of which lie two almost parallel double lines of menhirs, running about E.N.E. by W.S.W., the more southerly of the two lines overlapping the other at both extremities.
With what purpose were these great circles erected? We have already mentioned the curious belief of Geoffrey of Monmouth with regard to Stonehenge, and we may pass on to more modern theories. James I was once taken to see Stonehenge when on a visit to the Earl of Pembroke at Wilton. He was so interested that he ordered his architect Inigo Jones to enquire into its date and purpose. The architect's conclusion was that it was a Roman temple "dedicated to the god Caelus and built after the Tuscan order."
Many years later Dr. Stukeley started a theory which has not entirely been abandoned at the present day. For him Stonehenge and other stone circles were temples of the druids. This was in itself by no means a ridiculous theory, but Stukeley went further than this. Relying on a quaint story in Pliny wherein the druids of Gaul are said to use as a charm a certain magic egg manufactured by snakes, he imagined that the druids were serpent-worshippers, and essayed to see serpents even in the forms of their temples. Thus in the Avebury group the circle on Hakpen Hill was for him the head of a snake and its avenue part of the body. The Avebury circles were coils in the body, which was completed by the addition of imaginary stones and avenues. He also attempted with even less success to see the form of a serpent in other British circle groups.
The druids, as we gather from the rather scanty references in Caesar and other Roman authors, were priests of the Celts in Gaul. Suetonius further speaks of druids in Anglesey, and tradition has it that in Wales and Ireland there were druids in pre-Christian times. But that druids ever existed in England or in a tithe of the places in which megalithic circles and other monuments occur is unlikely. At the same time, it is not impossible that some of the circles of Ireland, Wales, and France were afterwards used by the druids as suitable places for meeting and preaching.
Fergusson in his great work Rude Stone Monuments held a remarkable view as to the purpose of the British stone circles. He believed that they were partly Roman in date, and that some of them at least marked the scene of battles fought by King Arthur against the Saxons. Thus, for example, he says with regard to Avebury, "I feel it will come eventually to be acknowledged that those who fell in Arthur's twelfth and greatest battle were buried in the ring at Avebury, and that those who survived raised these stones and the mound of Silbury in the vain hope that they would convey to their latest posterity the memory of their prowess." It is hardly necessary to take this view seriously nowadays. Stonehenge, which Fergusson attributes to the same late era, has been proved by excavation to be prehistoric in origin, and with it naturally go the rest of the megalithic circles of England, except where there is any certain proof to the contrary.
The most probable theory is that the circles are religious monuments of some kind. What the nature of the worship carried on in them was it is quite impossible to determine. It may be that some at least were built near the graves of deified heroes to whose worship they were consecrated. On the other hand, it is possible that they were temples dedicated to the sun or to others of the heavenly bodies. Whether they served for the taking of astronomical observations or not is a question which cannot be decided with certainty, though the frequency with which menhirs occur in directions roughly north-east of the circles is considered by some as a sign of connection with the watching of solar phenomena.
Dolmens of simple type are not common in England, though they occur with comparative frequency in Wales, where the best known are the so-called Arthur's Quoit near Swansea, the dolmen of Pentre Ifan in Pembrokeshire, and that of Plas Newydd on the Menai Strait: in Anglesey they are quite common. In England we have numerous examples in Cornwall, especially west of Falmouth, among which are Chun Quoit and Lanyon Quoit. There are dolmens at Chagford and Drewsteignton in Devonshire, and there is one near the Rollright Circle in Oxfordshire.
Many of the so-called cromlechs of England are not true dolmens, but the remains of tombs of more complicated types. Thus the famous Kit's Coty House in Kent was certainly not a dolmen, though it is now impossible to say what its form was. Wayland the Smith's Cave was probably a three-chambered corridor-tomb covered with a mound. The famous Men-an-tol in Cornwall may well be all that is left of a chamber-tomb of some kind. It is a slab about 3-1/2 feet square, in which is a hole 1-1/2 feet in diameter. There are other stones standing or lying around it. It is known to the peasants as the Crickstone, for it was said to cure sufferers from rickets or crick in the back if they passed nine times through the hole in a direction against the sun. The Isle of Man possesses a fine sepulchral monument on Meayll Hill. It consist of six T-shaped chamber-tombs arranged in a circle with entrances to the north and south. There is also a corridor-tomb, known as King Orry's Grave, at Laxey, and another with a semicircular facade at Maughold.
Among the megalithic monuments of our islands the chambered barrows hold an important place. It is well known that in the neolithic period the dead in certain parts of England were buried under mounds of not circular but elongated shape. These graves are commonest in Wiltshire and the surrounding counties of Dorsetshire, Somersetshire, and Gloucestershire. A few exist in other counties. Some contain no chamber, while others contain a structure of the megalithic type. It is with these latter that we have here to deal. Chambered long barrows are most frequent in Wiltshire, though they do occur in other counties, as, for example, Buckinghamshire, where the famous Cave of Wayland the Smith is certainly the remains of a barrow of this kind. In Derbyshire and Staffordshire a type of chambered mound does occur, but it seems uncertain from the description given whether it is round or elongated.
Turning first to the Wiltshire and Gloucestershire group of barrows we find that they are usually from 120 to 200 feet in length and from 30 to 60 in breadth. In some cases there is a wall of dry stone-masonry around the foot of the mound and outside this a ditch. The megalithic chambers within the mound are of three types. In the first there is a central gallery entering the mound at its thicker end and leading to a chamber or series of chambers (Fig. 3, a and c). Where this gallery enters the mound there is a cusp-shaped break in the outline of the mound as marked by the dry walling, and the entrance is closed by a stone block. The chambers are formed of large slabs set up on edge. Occasionally there are spaces between successive slabs, and these are filled up with dry masonry. The roof is made either by laying large slabs across the tops of the sides or by corbelling with smaller slabs as at Stoney Littleton.
In the second type of chambered barrow there is no central corridor, but chambers are built in opposite pairs on the outside edge of the mound and opening outwards (Fig. 3, b). The two best known examples of this are the tumuli of Avening and of Rodmarton.
In the third type of barrow there is no chamber connected with the outside, but its place is taken by several dolmens—so small as to be mere cists—within the mound.
The burials in these barrows seem to have been without exception inhumations. The body was placed in the crouched position, either sitting up or reclining. In an untouched chamber at Rodmarton were found as many as thirteen bodies, and in the eastern chamber at Charlton's Abbott there were twelve. With the bodies lay pottery, vases, and implements of flint and bone.
MEGALITHIC MONUMENTS IN SCOTLAND AND IRELAND
The stone circles of Scotland have been divided into three types—the Western Scottish, consisting of a rather irregular ring or pair of concentric rings; the Inverness type, in which a chamber entered by a straight passage is covered by a round tumulus with a retaining wall of stone, the whole being surrounded by a regular stone circle; and the Aberdeen type, which is similar to the last, but has a 'recumbent' stone between two of the uprights of its outer circle.
The first type occurs in the southern counties, in the islands of the west and north coasts, and also extends into Argyll and Perthshire. The most famous example is the Callernish Circle in the Isle of Lewis. The circle is formed by thirteen stones from 12 to 15 feet high, and its centre is marked by an upright 17 feet high. From the circle extends a line of four stones to the east and another to the west. To the south runs a line of five uprights and several fallen stones, and to the N.N.E. runs a double line, forming as it were an avenue with nine stones on one side and ten on the other, but having no entrance to the circle. Inside the circle, between the central stone and the east side of the ring, is what is described as a cruciform grave with three cells under a low tumulus. In this tomb were found fragments of human bone apparently burnt. It has been suggested that the tomb is not part of the original structure, but was added later.
The native tradition about this circle as repeated by Martin in 1700 was that it was a druidical place of worship, and that the chief druid stood near the central stone to address the assembled people. This tradition seems to have now disappeared.
In the island of Arran, between Brodick and Lamlash, is a damaged circle 21 feet in diameter. At a distance of 60 feet from its circumference in a direction 35 deg. east of south is a stone 4 feet high. In the centre of the circle was found a cist cut in the underlying rock containing bluish earth and pieces of bone. Above were an implement and some fragments of flint.
On the other side of the island there were still in 1860 remains of eight circles, five of sandstone and three of granite, quite close to one another. The diameter of the largest was 63 feet, and the highest stone reached 18 feet. One of them was a double ring. In four of them were found cists containing pottery, flint arrow-heads, a piece of a bronze pin, and some fragments of bone. Others appear to contain no cists.
In the other islands of the west coast few circles seem to remain; there are, however, one at Kirkabrost in Skye, and another at Kingarth in Bute.
At Stromness in Orkney is the famous circle called the Ring of Brogar. It originally consisted of sixty stones forming a circle 340 feet in diameter, outside which was a ditch 29 feet wide. In a direction 60 deg. east of south from the centre, and at a distance of 63 chains, is a standing stone called the Watchstone, 18 feet high, and 42 or 43 chains further on in the same line is a second stone, the Barnstone, 15 feet high. To the left of this line are two stones apparently placed at random, and to the right are the few remaining blocks of the Ring of Stenness, somewhere to the north of which was the celebrated pierced block called the "Stone of Odin," destroyed early in the last century. At a distance of 42 or 43 chains to the north-east of the Barnstone lies the tumulus of Maeshowe. This tumulus conceals a long gallery leading into a rectangular chamber. The walls of this latter are built of horizontal courses of stones, except at the corners, where there are tall, vertically-placed slabs. The chamber has three niches or recesses, one on each of its closed sides. The roof is formed by corbelling the walls and finishing off with slabs laid across. If one sits within the chamber and looks in a direct line along the passage one sees the Barnstone.
A series of measurements and alignments have been taken to connect the Maeshowe tumulus with the Ring of Brogar. Thus we have already seen that the distance from the Barnstone to the Watchstone is the same as from the Barnstone to the tumulus. Moreover, the Watchstone is equidistant from the ring and from the tumulus. Again, a line from the Barnstone to the tumulus passes through the point of the midsummer sunrise and also, on the other horizon, through the point of the setting sun ten days before the winter solstice; the line from the Watchstone to the Brogar Ring marks the setting of the sun at the Beltane festival in May and its rising ten days before the winter solstice, while the line from Maeshowe to the Watchstone is in the line of the equinoctial rising and setting. These alignments are the work of Mr. Magnus Spence; readers must choose what importance they will assign to them.
The Inverness type of circle is entirely different from that of which we have been speaking. The finest examples were at Clava, seven miles from Inverness, where fifty years ago there were eight still in existence. One of these is still partly preserved. It consists of a circle 100 feet in diameter consisting of twelve stones. Within this is a cairn of stones with a circular retaining wall of stone blocks 2 or 3 feet high. The cairn originally covered a circular stone chamber 12-1/2 feet in diameter entered by a straight passage on its south-west side. In other words, the Inverness monuments are simply chamber-tombs covered with a cairn and surrounded by a circle.
Around Aberdeen we find the third type of circle. It consists of a cist-tomb covered by a low mound, often with a retaining wall of small blocks, but there is no entrance passage leading into the cist. Outside the whole is a circle of large upright blocks with this peculiarity, that between the two highest—generally to the south or slightly east of south—lies a long block on its side, occupying the whole interval between them. The uprights nearest this 'recumbent' block are the tallest in the circle, and the size of the rest decreases towards the north. Of thirty circles known near Aberdeen twenty-six still possess the 'recumbent' stone, and in others it may originally have existed.
Passing now to monuments of more definitely sepulchral type we find that the dolmen is not frequent in Scotland, though several are known in the lowlands and in part of Argyllshire.
To the long barrows of England answer in part at least the chambered cairns of Caithness and the Orkneys. The best known type is a long rectangular horned cairn (Fig. 4), of which there are two fine examples near Yarhouse. The largest is 240 feet in length. The chamber is circular, and roofed partly by corbelling and partly by a large slab. In the cairn of Get we have a shorter and wider example of the horned type. Another type is circular or elliptical. In a cairn of this sort at Canister an iron knife was found. On the Holm of Papa-Westra in the Orkneys there is an elliptical cairn of this kind containing a long rectangular chamber running along its major axis with seven small circular niches opening off it. The entrance passage lies on the minor axis of the barrow.
The megalithic monuments of Ireland are extremely numerous, and are found in almost every part of the country. They offer a particular interest from the fact that though they are of few different types they display all the stages by which the more complex were developed from the more simple. It must be remembered that most if not all the monuments we shall describe were originally covered by mounds of earth, though in most cases these have disappeared.
The simple dolmen is found in almost all parts of the country. Its single cover-slab is supported by a varying number of uprights, sometimes as few as three, oftener four or more. It is of great importance to notice the fact that here in Ireland, as elsewhere in the megalithic area, e.g. Sardinia, we have the round and rectangular dolmens in juxtaposition (Fig. 5, a and c).
Occasionally one of the end-blocks of the dolmen instead of just closing up the space between the two nearest side-blocks is pushed back between them so as to form with them a small three-sided portico outside the chamber, but still under the shelter of the cover-slab (Fig. 5, b). A good example of this exists at Gaulstown, Waterford, where a table-stone weighing 6 tons rests on six uprights, three of which form the little portico just described. The famous dolmen of Carrickglass, Sligo, is a still more developed example of this type. Here the chamber is an accurate rectangle, and the portico is formed by adding two side-slabs outside one of the end-slabs, but still under the cover. This last is a remarkable block of limestone weighing about 70 tons. This form of tomb is without doubt a link between the simple dolmen and the corridor-tomb. The portico was at first built under the slab by pushing an end-stone inwards. Then external side-stones formed the portico, though still under the slab. The next move was to construct the portico outside the slab. The portico then needed a roof, and the addition of a second cover to provide it completed the transition to the simpler corridor-tomb. In many cases the Irish simple dolmens were surrounded by a circle of upright stones. At Carrowmore, Sligo, there seems to have been a veritable cemetery of dolmen-tombs, each of which has one or more circles around it, the outermost being 120 feet in diameter. The tombs in these Carrowmore circles were not always simple dolmens, but often corridor-tombs of more or less complicated types. Their excavation has not given very definite results. In many cases human bones have been found in considerable quantities, sometimes in a calcined condition; but there is no real evidence to show that cremation was the burial rite practised. The calcination of human bones may well have been caused by the lighting of fires in the tomb, either at some funeral ceremony, or in even later days, when the place was used as a shelter for peasants. A few poor flints were found and a little pottery, together with many bones of animals and some pins and borers of bone. The most important find made, however, was a small conical button made of bone with two holes pierced in its flat side and meeting in the middle. It is a type which occurs in Europe only at the period of transition from the age of stone to that of bronze, and usually in connection with megalithic monuments.
We pass on now to consider the simplest form of corridor-tomb, that in which there are several cover-slabs, but no separate chamber (Fig. 6). These tombs occur in most parts of Ireland. At Carrick-a-Dhirra, County Waterford, there is a perfect example of the most simple type. The tomb is exactly rectangular and lies east and west, with a length of 19 feet and a breadth of 7-1/2. At each end is a single upright, and each long side consists of seven. The chamber thus formed is roofed by five slabs. The whole was surrounded by a circle of about twenty-six stones, and no doubt the chamber was originally covered by a mound. In a somewhat similar example at Coolback, Fermanagh, the remains of the elliptical cairn are still visible.
But in most cases the plan of the corridor-tomb is complicated by a kind of outer lining of blocks which was added to it. Most of the monuments are so damaged that it is difficult to see what the exact form of this lining was. Whether it merely consisted of a line of upright blocks close around the sides of the chamber or whether these supported some further structure which covered up the whole chamber it is difficult to say. In some cases the roof-slab actually covers the outer line of blocks, and here it seems certain that this outer line served simply to reinforce the chamber walls, the space between being filled with earth or rubble. However, at Labbamologa, County Cork, is a tomb called Leaba Callighe, in which this was certainly not the case. The length of the whole monument is about 42 feet. The slabs cover the inner walls of the chamber, but not the outer lining: this last forms a kind of outer shell to the whole monument. It is shaped roughly like a ship, and runs to a point at the east end, thus representing the bow. The west end is damaged, but may have been pointed like the east. The whole reminds one very forcibly of the naus of the Balearic Isles and the Giants' Graves of Sardinia. Occasionally the corridor-tomb has a kind of portico at its west end.
In Munster the corridor-tomb takes a peculiar form (Fig. 7). It lies roughly east and west, and its two long sides are placed at a slight angle to one another in such a way that the west end is broader than the east. In a good example of this at Keamcorravooly, County Cork, there are two large capstones and the walls consist of double rows of slabs, the outer being still beneath the cover-slabs. On the upper surface of the covers are several small cup-shaped hollows, some of which at least have been produced artificially.
These wedge-shaped structures are of remarkable interest, for exactly the same broadening of the west end is found in Scandinavia, in the Huenenbetter of Holland, in the corridor-tombs of Portugal, and in the dolmens of the Deccan in India.
In some Irish tombs the corridor leads to a well-defined chamber. In a curious tomb at Carrickard, Sligo, the chamber was rectangular and lay across the end of the corridor in such a way as to form a T. The whole seems to have been covered with an oval mound. In another at Highwood in the same county a long corridor joins two small circular chambers, the total length being 44 feet. The corridor was once divided into four sections by cross-slabs. The cairn which covered this tomb was triangular in form.
In the county of Meath, in the parish of Lough Crew, is a remarkable series of stone cairns extending for three miles along the Slieve-na-Callighe Hills. These cairns conceal chamber-tombs. The cairns themselves are roughly circular, and the largest have a circle of upright blocks round the base. The chambers are built of upright slabs and are roofed by corbelling. Cairn H covered a corridor leading to a chamber and opening off on each side into a side-chamber, the whole group thus being cruciform. In these chambers were found human remains and objects of flint, bone, earthenware, amber, glass, bronze, and iron. Cairn L had a central corridor from which opened off seven chambers in a very irregular fashion. Cairn T consisted of a corridor leading to a fine octagonal chamber with small chambers off it on three sides.
The chief interest of these tombs lies in the remarkable designs engraved on some of the stones of the passages and chambers. They are fairly deeply cut with a rather sharp implement, probably a metal chisel. They are arranged in the most arbitrary way on the stones and are often crowded together in masses. There is no attempt to depict scenes of any kind, nor is there, indeed, any example of animal life. In fact, the designs seem to be purely ornamental. The most frequent elements of design are cup-shaped hollows, concentric circles or ovals, star-shaped figures, circles with emanating rays, spirals, chevrons, reticulated figures, parallel straight or curved lines. There seems to be no clue as to the meaning of these designs. They may have been merely ornamental, though this is hardly likely.
At New Grange, near Drogheda, there is a similar series of tumuli, one of which has become famous (Fig. 8). It consists of a huge mound of stones 280 feet in diameter surrounded by a circle of upright blocks. Access to the corridor is gained from the south-east side. This corridor leads to a chamber with three divisions, so that corridor and chambers together form a cross with a long shaft. The walls are formed of rough slabs set upright. In the passage the roof is of slabs laid right across, but the roof of the chamber is formed by corbelling. On the floor of each division of the chamber was found a stone basin.
Around the edge of the mound runs an enclosure wall of stones lying on the ground edge to edge. A few of these are sculptured. The finest is a great stone which lies in front of the entrance and shows a well-arranged design of spirals and lozenges. There are also engravings on one of the stones of the chambers. These designs are in general more skilful than those of Lough Crew. They consist mainly of chevrons, lozenges, spirals, and triangles.
The monuments we have so far described are all tombs. Ireland also possesses several stone circles. The largest are situated round Lough Gur, 10 or 12 miles south of Limerick. There was at one time a fine circle west of Lough Gur at Rockbarton, but it is now destroyed. On the eastern edge of the lough is a double concentric ring of stones, the diameter of the inner circle being about 100 feet. The rings are 6 feet apart, and the space between them is filled up with earth. In 1869 an excavation was made within the circle and revealed some human remains, mostly those of children from six to eight years old.
Further north is a remarkable group of monuments known as the Carrigalla circles. The first is a plain circle (L) 33 or 34 feet in diameter, composed of twenty-eight stones. The space within them is filled up with earth to form a raised platform. At a distance of 75 feet are two concentric circles, diameters 155 and 184 feet respectively, made of stones 5 or 6 feet high. The space between the two circles is filled with earth. Within these is a third concentric circle about 48 feet in diameter made of stones of the same size. This group of three concentric circles we will call M. The line joining the centres of L and M runs in a direction of 29 deg. or 30 deg. west of north and passes through a stone (N) 8 feet high standing on the top of a ridge 2500 feet away. There are two other stones more to the west (O and P) in such a position that the line joining them (41 deg. west of north) passes through the centre of M, from which they are distant 860 and 1450 feet respectively. Further, a line through the centre of L and a great standing stone (Q) 2480 feet from it in a direction 10 deg. east of south passes through the highest point in the district, 1615 feet away and 492 feet in height.
Mr. Lewis compares this group of monuments with that of Stanton Drew in Somersetshire. In both a line joining the centre of two circles passes through a single stone in a northerly direction, and there is in both a fixed line from the centre of the larger circle. Captain Boyle Somerville, R.N., finds that the line 29 deg. or 30 deg. west of north would mark the setting of Capella in B.C. 1600, or Arcturus 500 B.C.; he adds that the direction 41 deg. west of north would suit Capella in 2500 B.C. or Castor in 2000 B.C.
On the west side of Lough Gur is another group of monuments. There is in the first place a circle 55 feet in diameter. On a line 35 deg. east of north from this is a stone 10 feet high, and the same line produced strikes a prominent hill-top. Somewhere to the south-west of this circle, perhaps with its centre in the line just described, lay a second circle between 150 and 170 feet in diameter, destroyed in 1870. Three other stones mentioned by early writers as being near the circles have now disappeared. The direction 35 deg. east of north is the same as that of the King-stone with regard to the Rollright Circle in Oxfordshire. This line, allowing a height of 3 deg. for the horizon, would, according to Sir Norman Lockyer, have struck the rising points of Capella in 1700 B.C. and Arcturus in 500 B.C.
To the south of the destroyed circle is another about 150 to 155 feet in diameter, with stones of over 5 feet in height set close together. Earth is piled up outside them to form a bank 30 feet wide. There is an entrance 3 feet wide in a direction 59 deg. east of north from the centre of the circle. There is said to have been at one time a cromlech 100 feet wide due south of the circle and connected with it by a paved way. Sir Norman Lockyer thinks that the position of the doorway is connected with observation of the sun's rising in May. Moreover, the tallest stone of the circle, 9 feet high, is 30 deg. east of north from the centre, a direction which according to him points to the rising of Capella in 1950 B.C. and Arcturus in 280 B.C.
THE SCANDINAVIAN MEGALITHIC AREA
In Scandinavia megalithic monuments abound. They have been studied with unusual care from quite an early date in the history of archaeology, and classified in the order of their development. The earliest type appears to be the simple dolmen with either four or five sides and a very rough cover-slab. This and the upper part of the sides remained uncovered by the mound of earth which was always heaped round the tomb. In later times the dolmen became more regularly rectangular in shape, and only its roof-block appeared above the mound. Contemporary with this later form of dolmen were several other types of tomb. One was simply the earlier dolmen with one side open and in front of it a sort of portico or elementary corridor formed by two upright slabs with no roofing (cf. the Irish type, Fig. 5, b). This quickly developed into the true corridor-tomb, which had at first a small round chamber with one or two cover-slabs, a short corridor, and a round or rectangular mound. Later types have an oval chamber (Fig. 9) with from one to four cover-slabs or a rectangular chamber with a long corridor and a circular mound. Finally we reach a type where thin slabs are used in the construction, and the mound completely covers the cap-stones: here the corridor leads out from one of the short ends of the rectangular chamber.
The earliest of these types in point of view of development, the true dolmen, is common both in Denmark and in South Sweden; only one example exists in Norway. In Sweden it is never found far from the sea-coast.
The corridor-tomb is also frequent in Denmark and Sweden, though it is unknown in Norway. In Sweden it is, like all megalithic monuments, confined to the south of the country. Of the early transition type with elementary corridor there are fine examples at Herrestrup in Denmark and Torebo in Sweden. A tomb at Sjoebol in Sweden where the corridor, consisting of only two uprights, is covered in with two roof-slabs instead of being left open, shows very clearly the transition to the corridor-tomb proper, in which the entrance passage consists of at least four uprights, two on each side. Of this there are numerous fine examples. A tomb of this type at Broholm in Denmark has a roughly circular chamber separated from the corridor by a kind of threshold-stone. Another at Tyfta in Sweden is remarkable for its curious construction, the uprights being set rather apart from one another and the spaces between filled up with dry masonry of small stones. Possibly there were not sufficient large blocks at hand to construct a tomb of the required size.
The still later type consisting of a rectangular chamber with a long corridor leading out of one of its long sides often attains to very imposing dimensions. In Westgothland, a province of Sweden, there are fine examples with walls of limestone and often roofs of granite visible above the surface of the mound. The largest of these tombs is that of Karleby near Falkoeping. In another at Axevalla Heath were found nineteen bodies seated round the wall of the chamber, each in a separate small cist of stone slabs. The position of the bodies in the Scandinavian graves is rather variable, both the outstretched and the contracted posture being used. It is usual to find many bodies in the same tomb, often as many as twenty or thirty: in that of Borreby on the island of Seeland were found seventy skeletons, all of children of from two to eighteen years of age.
In Denmark these rectangular tombs occasionally have one or more small round niches. In 1837 a large tomb was excavated at Lundhoej on Juetland, which had a circular niche opposite to the entrance. The niche had a threshold-stone, and the two uprights of the main chamber which lay on either side of this had been crudely engraved with designs, among which were a man, an animal, and a circle with a pair of diameters marked. Little was found in the chamber, and only some bones and a pot in the niche.
In Denmark often occur mounds which contain two or more tombs, usually of the same form, each with its separate entrance passage. At the entrance of the chamber there is sometimes a well-worked framework into which fitted a door of stone or wood.
The late type in which the corridor leads out of one of the narrow ends of the chamber is represented in both Sweden and Denmark. From this may be derived the rather unusual types in which the corridor has become indistinguishable from the chamber or forms a sort of antechamber to it. An example of the former type at Knyttkaerr in Sweden is wider at one end than at the other, and has an outer coating of stone slabs. It resembles very closely the wedge-shaped tombs of Munster (cf. Fig. 7):
In Germany megalithic monuments are not infrequent, but they are practically confined to the northern part of the country. They extend as far east as Koenigsberg and as far west as the borders of Holland. They are very frequent in Holstein, Mecklenburg, and Hanover. There are even examples in Prussian Saxony, but in South Germany they cease entirely. Keller in one edition of his Lake Dwellings figures two supposed dolmens north of Lake Pfaeffikon in Switzerland, but we have no details with regard to them.
The true dolmen is extremely rare in Germany, and only occurs in small groups in particular localities. The corridor-tomb with a distinct chamber is also very exceptional, especially east of the Elbe. The most usual type of megalithic tomb is that known as the Huenenbett or Riesenbett. The latter name means Giants' Bed, and it seems probable that the former should be similarly translated, despite the suggested connection with the Huns, for a word Huenen has been in use in North Germany for several centuries with the meaning of giants. A Huenenbett consists of a rectangular (rarely oval or round) hill of earth covering a megalithic tomb. This is a simple elongated rectangle in shape, made of upright blocks and roofed with two or more cover-slabs. The great Huenenbett or Grewismuehlen in Mecklenburg has a mound measuring 150 feet by 36 with a height of 5 feet. On the edge of the mound are arranged forty-eight tall upright blocks of stone.
The Huenenbetter of the Altmark are among the best known and explored. Here the corridors are usually about 20 feet long, though in rare cases they reach a length of 40 feet. Each is filled with clean sand up to two-thirds of its height, and on this lie the bodies and their funeral deposit. The bodies must have been laid flat, though not necessarily in an extended position, as there was not room above the sand for them to have been seated upright. Various implements of flint have been found in the tombs together with stone hammers and vases of pottery. There is no certain instance of the finding of metal.
A book printed by John Picardt at Amsterdam in 1660 contains quaint pictures of giants and dwarfs engaged in the building of a megalithic monument which is clearly a Huenenbett. According to tradition the giants, after employing the labour of the dwarfs, proceeded to devour them. Huenenbetter similar to those shown in Picardt's illustrations are still to be seen in Holland, but only in the north, where over fifty are known. They are of elongated rectangular form, built of upright blocks, and roofed with from two to ten cover-slabs. They all widen slightly towards the west end. The most perfect example still remaining is that of Tinaarloo, and the largest is that of Borger, which contains forty-five blocks, of which ten are cap-stones. Several Huenenbetter have been excavated. In them are found pottery vases, flint celts, axes and hammers of grey granite, basalt, and jade.
Belgium possesses several true dolmens, of which the best known is that called La Pierre du Diable on the right bank of the Meuse. Near Luettich are two simple corridor-tombs, each with a round hole in one of the end-slabs and a small portico outside it.
FRANCE, SPAIN, AND PORTUGAL
France contains large numbers of megalithic monuments. Of dolmens and corridor-tombs no less than 4458 have been recorded. In the east and south-east they are rare, but they abound over a wide strip running from the Breton coasts of the English Channel to the Mediterranean shores of Herault and Card. In 1901 Mortillef counted 6192 menhirs, including those which formed parts of alignements and cromlechs. Several of these attain to a great size. That to Locmariaquer (Morbihan), now unfortunately fallen and broken, measured over 60 feet in height, being thus not much shorter than the Egyptian obelisk which stands in the Place de la Concorde in Paris.
Passing now to combinations of menhirs in groups, we must first mention the remarkable alignements of Brittany, of which the most famous are those of Carnac. They run east and west over a distance of 3300 yards, but the line is broken at two points in such a way that the whole forms three groups. The most westerly, that of Menec, consists of eleven lines of menhirs and a cromlech, the total number of stones standing being 1169, the tallest of which is 13 feet in height. The central group, that of Kermario, consists of 982 stones arranged in ten straight lines, while the most easterly, that of Kerlescan, is formed by 579 menhirs, 39 of which form a rectangular enclosure.
There are other alignements in Brittany, of which the most important is that of Erdeven, comprising 1129 stones arranged in ten lines. Outside Brittany alignements are unusual, but a fine example, now ruined, is said to have existed at Saint Pantaleon north of Autun. In the fields around it are found large quantities of polished stone axes with knives, scrapers, and arrow-heads of flint.
We have already noticed the cromlechs which form part of the alignements of Brittany. There are other examples in France. At Er-Lanic are two circles touching one another, the lower of which is covered by the sea even at low tide. Excavations carried out within the circles brought to light rough pottery and axes of polished stone. Two fine circles at Can de Ceyrac (Gard) have diameters of about 100 yards, and are formed of stones about 3 feet high. Each has a short entrance avenue which narrows as it approaches the circle, and in the centre of each rises a trilithon of rough stones.
Of the definitely sepulchral monuments the dolmen is common in all parts of the French megalithic area. It will suffice to mention the magnificent example known as the Table des Marchands at Locmariaquer. Perhaps the most typical structure in France is the corridor-tomb in which the chamber is indistinguishable from the passage, and the whole forms a long rectangular area. This is the allee couverte in the narrower sense. In the department of Oise occurs a special type of this in which one of the end-slabs has a hole pierced in its centre and is preceded by a small portico consisting of two uprights supporting a roof-slab (Fig 10). A remarkable example in Brittany known as Les Pierres Plates turns at a sharp angle in the middle, and is thus elbow-shaped.
In the north of France the allee is often merely cut out in the surface of the ground and has no roof at all. It is sometimes paved with slabs and divided into two partitions by an upright with a hole in its centre. Tombs of this kind often contain from forty to eighty skeletons, some of which are in the contracted position. The skulls are in some cases trepanned, i.e. small round pieces of the bone have been cut out of them; such pieces are sometimes found separate in the graves. No objects of metal occur in these North French tombs.
There are many fine examples in Brittany of the corridor-tomb with distinct chamber. The best known lies on the island of Gavr'inis (Morbihan). It is covered by a tumulus nearly 200 feet in diameter. The circular chamber, 6 feet in height, is roofed by a huge block measuring 13 feet by 10. The corridor which leads out to the edge of the mound is 40 feet in length. Twenty-two of the upright blocks used in this tomb are almost entirely covered with engraved designs. These are massed together with very little order, the main object having been apparently to cover the whole surface of the stone with ornament. The designs consist of spirals, concentric circles and semicircles, chevrons, rows of strokes, and triangles, and bear a considerable resemblance to those of Lough Crew and New Grange in Ireland.
Another tomb in the same district, that of Mane-er-Hroeck, was intact when discovered in 1863. It contained within its chamber a hoard of 101 axes of fibrolite and jadeite, 50 pebbles of a kind of turquoise known as callais, pieces of pottery, flints, and a peculiarly fine celt of jadeite together with a flat ring-shaped club-head of the same stone. The tomb was concealed by a huge oval mound more than 100 yards in length. The famous Mont S. Michel is an artificial mound containing a central megalithic chamber and several smaller cists, some of which held cremated bodies.
A very remarkable mound in Calvados (Fig. 11) was found to contain no less than twelve circular corbelled chambers, each with a separate entrance passage. The megalithic tombs of Brittany all belong to the late neolithic period, and contain tools and arrow-heads of flint, small ornaments of gold, callais, and pottery which includes among its forms the bell-shaped cup.
In Central and South France the allees couvertes are mostly of a semi-subterranean type, i.e. they are cut in the ground and merely roofed with slabs of stone. The most famous is that of the Grotte des Fees near Arles (Fig. 12), in which a passage (a) with a staircase at one end and two niches (b b) in its sides leads into a narrow rectangular chamber (c). The total length is nearly 80 feet. Another tomb of the same type, La Grotte du Castellet, contained over a hundred skeletons, together with thirty-three flint arrow or spear-heads, one of which was stuck fast in a human vertebra, a bell-shaped cup, axes of polished stone, beads and pendants of various materials, 114 pieces of callais, and a small plaque of gold.
On the plateau of Ger near the town of Dax are large numbers of mounds, some of which contain cremated bodies in urns and others megalithic tombs. Bertrand saw in this a cemetery of two different peoples living side by side. But it has since been shown that the cremation mounds belong to a much later period than those which contain megalithic graves. In these last the skeletons were found seated around the walls of the chamber accompanied by objects of flint and other stone, beads of callais, and small gold ornaments.
France has also its rock-hewn tombs, for in the valley of the Petit-Morin is a series of such graves. A trench leads down to the entrance, which is closed by a slab. The chamber itself is completely underground. In the shallower tombs were either two rows of bodies with a passage between or separate layers parted by slabs or strata of sand. In the deeper were seldom more than eight bodies, in the extended or contracted position, with tools and weapons of flint, pots, and beads of amber and of callais. On the walls were rough sculptures of human figures (Fig. 13), to which we shall have to return later.
The Channel Islands possess megalithic monuments not unlike those of Brittany. They are corridor-tombs covered with a mound and often surrounded by a circle of stones. Within the chamber, which is usually round, lies, under a layer of shells, a mass of mingled human and animal bones. The bodies had been buried in the sitting position, and with them lay objects of stone and bone, but none of metal.
The Spanish Peninsula abounds in megalithic monuments. With the exception of a few menhirs, whose purpose is uncertain, all are sepulchral. Dolmens and corridor-tombs are numerous in many parts, especially in the north-east provinces, in Galicia, in Andalusia, and, above all, in Portugal. There is a fine dolmen in the Vall Gorguina in North-East Spain. The cover-slab, measuring 10 feet by 8, is supported by seven rough uprights with considerable spaces between them. In the same region is a ruined dolmen surrounded by a circle nearly 90 feet in circumference, consisting of seven large stones, some of which appear to be partly worked. Circles are also found round dolmens in Andalusia. Portugal abounds in fine dolmens both of the round and rectangular types. At Fonte Coberta on the Douro stands a magnificent dolmen known locally as the Moors' House. In the name of the field, Fonte Coberta, there is doubtless an allusion to the belief that the dolmens conceal springs of water, a belief also held in parts of Ireland.
At Eguilaz in the Basque provinces is a fine corridor-tomb, in which a passage 20 feet long, roofed with flat slabs, leads to a rectangular chamber 13 feet by 15 with an immense cover-slab nearly 20 feet in length: the whole was covered with a mound of earth. The chamber contained human bones and "lanceheads of stone and bronze." A famous tomb of a similar type exists at Marcella in Algarve. The chamber is a fine circle of upright slabs. It is paved with stones, and part of its area is divided into two or perhaps three rectangular compartments. A couple of orthostatic slabs form a sort of neck joining the circle to the passage, which narrows as it leads away from the circle, and was probably divided into two sections by a doorway whose side-posts still remain.
In South-East Spain the brothers Siret have found corridor-tombs in which the chamber is cut in the rock surface and roofed with slabs; the entrance passage becomes a slope or a staircase. Here we have a parallel to the Giants' Graves of Sardinia, which are built usually of stone blocks on the surface, but occasionally are cut in the solid rock. Other tombs in the same district show the common megalithic construction consisting of a base course of upright slabs surmounted by several courses of horizontal masonry (Fig. 14). The chamber is usually round, and may have two or more niches in its circumference. It is roofed by the successive overlapping or corbelling of the upper courses. The vault thus formed is further supported by a pillar of wood or stone set in the centre of the chamber. On the walls of some of the chambers there are traces of rough painting in red. The whole tomb is covered with a circular mound. In the best known example at Los Millares there are remains of a semicircular facade in front of the entrance, as in many other megalithic monuments.
The finest, however, of all the Spanish monuments is the corridor-tomb of Antequera in Andalusia. It consists of a short passage leading into a long rectangular chamber roofed with four slabs. Within it on its axial line are three stone pillars placed directly under the three meeting-points of the four slabs, but quite unnecessary for their support. The whole tomb is covered with a low mound of earth. In the great upright slab which forms the inner end of the chamber is a circular hole rather above the centre.
It is not the plan of this tomb, but the size, that compels the admiration of the beholder. He stands, as it were, within a vast cave lighted only from its narrow end, the roof far above his head. The rough surface of the blocks lends colour to the feeling that this is the work of Nature and not of man. Here, even if not in Stonehenge, he will pause to marvel at the patient energy of the men of old who put together such colossal masses of stone.
Among the corridor-tombs of Spain must be mentioned a wedge-shaped type which bears a close resemblance to those of Munster in Ireland (cf. Fig. 7). In Alemtejo, south of Cape de Sines, are several of these, usually about 6 feet in length, with a slight portico at one end.
A further point of similarity with the Irish monuments is seen in the corridor-tombs of Monte Abrahao in Portugal, where the chamber walls seem to have been reinforced by an outer lining of slabs. Remains of eighty human bodies were found in this tomb, together with objects of stone and bone, including a small conical button similar to that of Carrowmore in Ireland.
The Spanish Peninsula also possesses rock-hewn tombs. At Palmella, near Lisbon, is a circular example about 12 feet in diameter preceded by a bell-shaped passage which slopes slightly downwards. Another circular chamber in the same group has a much longer passage, which bulges out into two small rounded antechambers. These tombs have been excavated and yielded some pottery vases, together with objects of copper and beads of a peculiar precious stone called callais. All the finds made in the megalithic remains of Spain and Portugal point to the period of transition from the age of stone to that of metal.
The Balearic Islands contain remarkable megalithic monuments. Those known as the talayots are towers having a circular or rarely a square base and sloping slightly inwards as they rise. The largest is 50 feet in diameter. The stones, which are rather large and occasionally trimmed, are laid flat, not on edge. A doorway just large enough to be entered with comfort leads through the thickness of the wall into a round chamber roofed by corbelling, with the assistance sometimes of one or more pillars. From analogy with the nuraghi of Sardinia, which they resemble rather closely, it seems probable that the talayots are fortified dwellings, perhaps only used in time of danger (Fig. 15).
The naus or navetas are so named from their resemblance to ships. The construction is similar to that of the talayots. The outer wall has a considerable batter. The famous Nau d'Es Tudons is about 36 feet in length. The facade is slightly concave. A low door (a) gives access through a narrow slab-roofed passage (b) to a long rectangular chamber (c), the method of whose roofing is uncertain. All the naus are built with their facades to the south or south-east, with the exception of that of Benigaus Nou, the inner end of which is cut in the rock, while the outer part is built up of blocks as usual. The abnormal orientation was here clearly determined by the desire to make use of the face of rock in the construction. The naus seem to have been tombs, as human remains have been found in them.