A dolmen (/ˈdɒlmɛn/) is a type of single-chamber megalithic tomb,
usually consisting of two or more vertical megaliths supporting a
large flat horizontal capstone ("table"), although there are also more
complex variants. Most date from the early
Neolithic (4000–3000 BC).
Dolmens were typically covered with earth or smaller stones to form a
tumulus. In many instances, that covering has weathered away, leaving
only the stone "skeleton" of the burial mound intact.
It remains unclear when, why, and by whom the earliest dolmens were
made. The oldest known dolmens are in Western Europe, where they were
set in place around 7,000 years ago. Archaeologists still do not know
who erected these dolmens, which makes it difficult to know why they
did it. They are generally all regarded as tombs or burial chambers,
despite the absence of clear evidence for this. Human remains,
sometimes accompanied by artefacts, have been found in or close to the
dolmens which could be scientifically dated using radiocarbon dating.
However, it has been impossible to prove that these remains date from
the time when the stones were originally set in place.
3.1.4 Middle East
3.2.1 Horn of Africa
3.2.2 North Africa
4 See also
6 Further reading
7 External links
The word dolmen has a confused history. The word entered archaeology
Théophile Corret de la Tour d'Auvergne
Théophile Corret de la Tour d'Auvergne used it to describe
megalithic tombs in his Origines gauloises (1796) using the spelling
dolmin (the current spelling was introduced about a decade later and
had become standard in French by about 1885). The Oxford English
Dictionary does not mention "dolmin" in English and gives its first
citation for "dolmen" from a book on
Brittany in 1859, describing the
word as "The French term, used by some English authors, for a cromlech
...". The name was supposedly derived from a
Breton language term
meaning "stone table" but doubt has been cast on this, and the OED
describes its origin as "Modern French". A book on Cornish antiquities
from 1754 said that the current term in the
Cornish language for a
cromlech was tolmen ("hole of stone") and the
OED says that "There is
reason to think that this was the term inexactly reproduced by Latour
d'Auvergne [sic] as dolmen, and misapplied by him and succeeding
French archaeologists to the cromlech". Nonetheless it has now
replaced cromlech as the usual English term in archaeology, when the
more technical and descriptive alternatives are not used.
Dolmens are known by a variety of names in other languages, including
Irish: dolmain, Galician and Portuguese: anta, German:
Afrikaans and Dutch: hunebed, Abkhazian:
Adamra, Adyghe Ispun, dysse (Danish and Norwegian), dös (Swedish),
Korean: 고인돌 goindol(mordenized word: stacked stone),
"dol(stone)", "dolmaengj (pebble-stones, varied stones)", and Hebrew:
גַלעֵד. Granja is used in Portugal, Galicia, and Spain. The
rarer forms anta and ganda also appear. In the Basque Country, they
are attributed to the jentilak, a race of giants.
The etymology of the German: Hünenbett, Hünengrab and Dutch: hunebed
- with Hüne/hune meaning "giant" - all evoke the image of giants
building the structures. Of other Celtic languages, Welsh: cromlech
was borrowed into English and quoit is commonly used in English in
This is known as a keyhole entrance
Rectangular, enlarged or extended dolmen
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The capstone is covered with grass for protection during the
transport, the stick with kain shows the stone is for a raja, Sumba,
Korean dolmens exhibit a morphology distinct from the Atlantic
European dolmen. The largest concentration of dolmens in the
world is found on the Korean Peninsula. With an estimated 35,000
dolmens, Korea alone accounts for nearly 40% of the world’s
total. The largest distribution of these is on the west coast
area of South Korea, an area that would eventually become host to the
Mahan confederacy and be united under the rule of the ancient kingdom
Baekje at one time.
UNESCO World Heritage
UNESCO World Heritage sites at Gochang, Hwasun and
Ganghwa ( Hwasun – 34°58′39″N 126°55′54″E /
34.9775414°N 126.931551°E / 34.9775414; 126.931551) by
themselves account for over 1,000 dolmens.
The Korean word for dolmen is goindol (Hangul: 고인돌) "supported
stone". Serious studies of the Korean megalithic monuments were not
undertaken until relatively recently, well after much research had
already been conducted on dolmens in other regions of the world. Since
1945, new research has been conducted by Korean scholars. In 1981 a
curator of National Museum of Korea, Gon'gil Ji, classified Korean
dolmens into two general types: northern and southern. The boundary
between them falls at the
Bukhan River although examples of both types
are found on either side. Northern style dolmens stand above ground
with a four sided chamber and a megalithic roof (also referred to as
"table type"), while southern style dolmens are normally built into
the ground and contain a stone chest or pit covered by a rock
Korean dolmens can also be divided into three main types: the table
type, the go-table type and the unsupported capstone type. The
dolmen in Ganghwa is a northern-type, table-shaped dolmen and is the
biggest stone of this kind in South Korea, measuring 2.6 by 7.1 by
5.5 m (8.5 by 23.3 by 18.0 ft). There are many sub-types
and different styles. Southern type dolmens are associated with
burials but the reason for building northern style dolmens is
Due to the vast numbers and great variation in styles, no absolute
chronology of Korean dolmens has yet been established. It is generally
accepted that the Korean megalithic culture emerged from the late
Neolithic age, during which agriculture developed on the peninsula,
and flourished throughout the Bronze Age. Some dolmens depict
astronomical formations, dated up to 3000 B.C. effectively the first
star-chart in the world. How and why Korea has produced so many
dolmens are still poorly understood. There is no current conclusive
theory on the origin of Korea's megalithic culture, and so it is
difficult to determine the true cultural character of Korean dolmens.
Some dolmens are also found in
Manchuria and the Shandong Peninsula.
Off the peninsula, similar specimens can be found in smaller numbers,
but they are often considerably larger than the Korean dolmens. It
is a mystery why this culture flourished so extensively only on the
Korean peninsula and its vicinity in Northeast Asia.
Karnataka more than 50 dolmens are identified on top of
Pandavara Betta about 7 km (4.3 mi) away from Somwarpet
towards Shaniwar Sante in
Madikeri (Coorg) District.
Tamil Nadu: In
Tamil Nadu more than 100 dolmens are identified in the
Moral Pari near Mallachandram  located 19 km (12 mi)
from Krishnagiri district, Tamil Nadu.
There are also dolmens in Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka,
Kerala and Tamil
Nadu in South India.
Dolmens of North Caucasus
Dolmens of North Caucasus and Dolmens of Abkhazia
Over 3,000 dolmens and other structures can be found in the
Caucasus region in Russia, where more and more dolmens
are discovered in the mountains each year. These dolmens are related
to the Maykop culture. This great city of dolmens was built along the
shores of the Black Sea from Maykop down to Sochi. The inhabitants
were metal workers. The dolmens were vaults or safes of stone, with a
narrow circular entrance that could be tapped with a round screw of
stone. Supposedly the dolmens were used to hide and protect metal
objects: gold, silver, bronze, jewels and some other treasure. Trade
of these objects was done with Persia, Assyria, Egypt and Crete. The
Dolmen City was pillaged and sacked by
Scythian invaders in the early
first millennium BC. The metal workers were enslaved.
Dolmens can be found in Israel, Syria, Iran and Jordan. Numerous large
dolmens are in the Israeli National park at
Gamla and some of dolmens
can be viewed in the meshkin shahr at shahr yeri or pirazmian.
There are many examples of flint dolmens in the historical villages of
Natifah in northern Jordan. The greatest number of
dolmens are around Madaba, like the ones at Al Faiha village,
10 km (6.2 mi) to the west of
Madaba city. Two dolmens
are in Hisbone, and the most have been found at Zarqa Ma'in at
Al-Murayghat, which are being destroyed by gravel quarries.
In Turkey, there are some dolmens in the Regions of Lalapasa and
Suloglu in the Province of Edirne and the Regions of KOfcaz,
Kirklareli and Demirkoy in the Province of Kirklareli, in the Eastern
Thrace. They have been studied by Prof. Dr. Engin Beksaç, since 2004.
And also, some of so-called monuments are in the different regions of
Anatolia, in Turkey.
Gochang Dolmen, a table-style dolmen, Korea
Hongseong dolmen, a dissection-style dolmen, Korea
A dolmen erected by
Neolithic people in Marayur, India
Dolmen circles, Sulimalthe, Somwarpet
Marayoor in Kerala, India
Dolmen at Dannanapeta in Andhra Pradesh, India
Dolmen in the Zhane river valley, Russia
Flint dolmen in Johfiyeh, Jordan
Flint dolmen in Johfiyeh, Jordan
Horn of Africa
In northern Somalia, the town of Aw Barkhadle, named in honour of the
13th century scholar and saint Yusuf bin Ahmad al-Kawneyn, is
surrounded by a number of ancient structures. Among these are dolmens,
burial mounds, menhirs (standing stones), and stelae.
In northern Tunisia,
Dougga is an important ancient site, which
contains a necropolis with dolmens. The settlement also features a
sanctuary dedicated to Ba'al Hammon, neo-Punic stelae, the mausoleum,
architectural fragments, and a temple dedicated to Masinissa, the
remains of which were found during archaeological excavations.
Dolmen at Roknia, an ancient necropolis in the
Guelma region of
northeast Algeria; the site includes more than 7000 dolmens spread
over an area of 2 km (1.2 mi)
See also: Dolmens of Western Pomerania
Megalithic tombs are found from the Mediterranean Sea,
Baltic Sea and
North Sea coasts south to
Spain and Portugal. Hunebedden are chamber
tombs similar to dolmens and date to the middle Neolithic
(Funnelbeaker culture, 4th millennium BC). They consist of a kerb
surrounding an oval mound, which covered a rectangular chamber of
stones with the entrance on one of the long sides. Some have a more
complex layout and include an entrance passage giving them a T-shape.
Various menhirs and dolmens are located around the Mediterranean
Malta and Gozo.
Pottery uncovered in these structures
allowed the attribution of the monuments to the
Ġgantija and Mnajdra
temples culture of the early
Dolmen sites fringe the
Irish Sea and are found in south-east Ireland,
Devon and Cornwall. In Ireland, most dolmens are found on the
west coast, particularly in
Connemara and the Burren, which includes
some of the better-known examples, such as Poulnabrone dolmen.
Examples such as the Annadorn dolmen have also been found in Northern
Ireland, where they may have co-existed with the court cairn tombs.
Mecklenburg and Pomerania/
Pomorze in Germany and Poland, Drenthe
Netherlands, large numbers of these graves were disturbed when
harbours, towns, and cities were built.The boulders were used in
construction and road building. Others, such as the Harhoog, in Sylt,
were moved to new locations. There are still many thousands left today
By 2017, all the hunebedden in the Netherlands were put in a 3D atlas
(accessible to the public for free) using photogrammetry. The data was
obtained from a collaboration between the Province of
Drenthe and the
University of Groningen, subsidized by the Gratama Foundation.
Bulgaria: There are interesting dolmens in the regions related to the
Sakar and Rhodope and Strandzha Mountains in Bulgaria. There is also a
dolmen in Horë-Vranisht, Albania. It is locally known as "Guri me
qiell" ("Stone in the sky") or "Sofra e Zotit" ("Table of the
Channel Islands: Many examples appear on the
Channel Islands of Jersey
and Guernsey, such as La Pouquelaye de Faldouet, La Sergenté, and La
Hougue des Géonnais. The term Houge derives from the
Old Norse word
haugr, meaning a mound or barrow. The most famous of these sites is La
Hougue Bie, a 6,000-year-old neolithic site that sits inside a large
mound; later a chapel was built on the top of the mound.
France important megalithic zones are situated in Vendée,
Quercy and in the south of
France (Languedoc, Rouergue and Corsica).
Amongst the vast
Neolithic collections of the
Carnac stones in
Brittany, several dozen dolmens are found. Across the country, several
dolmens still stand, such as the ones of Passebonneau and des Gorces
Ireland: The largest dolmen in Europe is the
Brownshill Dolmen in
County Carlow, Ireland. Its capstone weighs about 150 tonnes.
Italy dolmens can be found in Apulia,
Sardinia and in
Sicily. In this latter region there are small dolmens located in Mura
Monte Bubbonia (Caltanissetta),
Butera (Caltanissetta), Cava dei Servi (Ragusa), Cava Lazzaro
Avola (Siracusa). In the area named Cava dei Servi was
found an atypical dolmen, away from the trilithic characteristic
shape; it's a semi-oval monument formed by four rectangular slabs
fixed into the ground. Another three slabs are on top, leaning in such
a way they reduce the surface and form a false dome; two large
parallelepiped boulders complete the construction.
Portugal: Dolmens can be found across Portugal, ranging from simple
ones to more complex examples of megalithic architecture, such as the
Almendres Cromlech or the Anta Grande do Zambujeiro.
Spain dolmens can be found in Galicia (such as Axeitos),
Basque Country and
Navarre (like the Sorgin Etxea) and the basque name
for them is Trikuharri or Jentiletxe,
Catalonia (like Cova d'en Daina
or Creu d'en Cobertella),
Andalusia (like the Cueva de Menga) and
Extremadura (like "
Dolmen de Lácara").
Lanyon Quoit is a dolmen in Cornwall, 2 mi
(3.2 km) southeast of Morvah. It stands next to the road leading
from Madron to Morvah. The capstone rested at 7 ft (2.1 m)
high with dimensions of 9 by 17.5 ft (2.7 by 5.3 m) weighing
The dolmen Er-Roc'h-Feutet in Carnac, Brittany, France
Crucuno dolmen in Plouharnel, Brittany, France
Poulnabrone dolmen in the Burren, County Clare, Ireland
Kilclooney More dolmen near Ardara, County Donegal, Ireland
Lancken-Granitz dolmen, Germany
Hunebed D27 in Borger-Odoorn, Netherlands
Dólmen da Aboboreira, Baião, Portugal
Dolmen of Avola, Sicily
Dolmen of Monte Bubbonia, Sicily
Dolmen of Cava dei Servi, Sicily
Dolmen of Oleiros, Spain
Dolmen Sa Coveccada, Mores, Sardinia
Cromlech at Enstone, Oxfordshire (p. 124, Feb 1824)
Plan of Cromlechs Near Kits Coty House, Kent (p. 124, Feb
Gochang, Hwasun and Ganghwa
Antequera Dolmens Site
Irish megalithic tombs
List of megalithic sites
Nordic megalith architecture
^ Lewis, S. (2009) Guide to the Menhirs and other Megaliths of Central
Brittany, Nezert Books, ISBN 978-952-270-595-2
^ Bakker, Jan Albert (2009).
Megalithic Research in the Netherlands,
1547–1911. Sidestone Press. p. 36.
^ Corret de la Tour d'Auvergne, Origines gauloises. Celles des plus
anciens peuples de l'Europe puisées dans leur vraie source ou
recherche sur la langue, l'origine et les antiquités des
Celto-bretons de l'Armorique, pour servir à l'histoire ancienne et
moderne de ce peuple et à celle des Français, p. PR1, at Google
OED "Dolmen", 1st edition, 1897
^ Questioning Knockeen – Local educational website – The keyhole
entrance in the image is the same one that is pictured on the website.
The image is many years more recent than the educational
^ a b c d Holcombe, Charles (2011). A history of East Asia : from
the origins of civilization to the twenty-first century (1. publ.
ed.). New York: Cambridge University Press. p. 79.
ISBN 0-521-51595-5. Retrieved 4 March 2016.
^ a b c d Nelson, Sarah Milledge (1993). The archaeology of Korea
(Asian ed.). Cambridge, England: Cambridge University Press.
p. 147. ISBN 0-521-40783-4. Retrieved 4 March 2016.
^ a b Joussaume, Roger Dolmens for the Dead Batsford Ltd (Jan 1988)
ISBN 978-0-7134-5369-0 p. 141–142
^ Jensen Jr., John. Earth Epochs: Cataclysms across the Holocene. John
Jensen. p. 276. Retrieved 4 March 2016.
^ Meyerhoff, Janusz (2013). Misteryous
Megalithic Structures. Lulu.
ISBN 978-1-304-65092-4. Retrieved 4 March 2016.
UNESCO World Heritage
UNESCO World Heritage List. "Gochang, Hwasun and Ganghwa Dolmen
Megalithic Cultures in Asia, Kim Byung-mo, 1982, Hanyang University
^ Holcombe 2011, p. 79.
^ Nelson, Sarah Milledge (2012). The Archaeology of Northeast China:
Beyond the Great Wall. p. 16. ISBN 978-1-134-81659-0.
Retrieved 4 March 2016.
^ Joussaume, Roger Dolmens for the Dead Batsford Ltd (Jan 1988)
ISBN 978-0-7134-5369-0 p. 280
^ "Krishnagiri District Website". Krishnagiri.tn.nic.in. Retrieved
^ Map, The
Portal and Megalith. "
Dolmen field". Andy
^ Oldest archaeological org in Israel:
Madaba dolmens". Video on YouTube. Missing or empty url=
^ "Where have all the dolmens gone?". Video on YouTube. Missing
or empty url= (help)
^ Briggs, Phillip (2012). Somaliland. Bradt Travel Guides. p. 98.
^ Journal of European Archaeology (JEA), 5 (1997); Emilia Pásztor and
Curt Roslund: Orientation of Maltese dolmens.
^ 3D atlas
^ Edward Frederick Knight. Albania: A Narrative of Recent Travel –
Primary Source Edition. Blackstaff Press. p. 257.
^ "The Scandinavian Contribution in Normandy". Viking.no. Retrieved
^ Weir, A (1980). Early Ireland. A Field Guide. Belfast: Blackstaff
Press. p. 101.
^ Salvatore Piccolo, Ancient Stones, op. cit.
^ Salvatore Piccolo, ibidem, pages 13 onwards.
^ a b The Gentleman's Magazine, and Historical Chronicle. 94 (1): 124.
Retrieved 13 December 2017. Missing or empty title= (help)
Holcombe, Charles (2011). A History of East Asia: From the Origins of
Civilization to the Twenty-First Century. Cambridge University Press.
Piccolo, Salvatore (2013). Ancient Stones: The Prehistoric Dolmens of
Sicily. Thornham/Norfolk: Brazen Head Publishing.
Trifonov, V., 2006. Russia's megaliths: unearthing the lost
prehistoric tombs of Caucasian warlords in the Zhane valley.
St.Petersburg: The Institute for Study of Material Culture History,
Russian Academy of Sciences. Available from 
Kudin, M., 2001. Dolmeni i ritual.
Dolmen Path – Russian Megaliths.
Available from 
Knight, Peter. Ancient Stones of Dorset, 1996.
Wikimedia Commons has media related to Dolmen.
Look up dolmen in Wiktionary, the free dictionary.
World heritage site of dolmen in Korea
Dolmen Museum in Italian and English
Dolmen of Korea
Research Centre of Dolmens in Northeast Asia
Dolmen in the Burren, County Clare, Ireland
Dolmen (Goindol) sites in Korea". on UNESCO's World Heritage
Jersey Heritage Trust
Dolmen Pictures by Robert Triest.
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↑ Mesolithic Europe ↑
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