Megalithic monuments are among the most striking remains of the Neolithic period of northern and western Europe and are scattered across landscapes from Pomerania to Portugal. Antiquarians and archaeologists early recognised the family resemblance of the different groups of tombs, attributing them to maritime peoples moving along the western seaways. More recent research sees them rather as the product of established early farming communities in their individual regions. Yet the diversity of the tombs, their chronologies and their varied cultural contexts complicates any straightforward understanding of their origins and distribution.
Megalithic Architectures provides new insight by focusing on the construction and design of European megalithic tombs - on the tomb as an architectural project. It shows how much is to be learned from detailed attention to the stages and the techniques through which tombs were built, modified and enlarged, and often intentionally dismantled or decommissioned. The large slabs that were employed, often unshaped, may suggest an opportunistic approach by the Neolithic builders, but this was clearly far from the case. Each building project was unique, and detailed study of individual sites exposes the way in which tombs were built as architectural, social and symbolic undertakings. Alongside the manner in which the materials were used, it reveals a store of knowledge that sometimes differed considerably from one structure to another, even between contemporary monuments within a single region.
The volume brings together regional specialists from Scandinavia, Germany, Britain, France, Belgium and Iberia to offer a series of uniquely authoritative studies. Results of recent fieldwork are fully incorporated and much of the material is published here for the first time in English. It provides an invaluable overview of the current state of research on European megalithic tombs.
Luc Laporte is Directeur de Recherche in the CNRS and is based at the Laboratoire Archeosciences at the Universite de Rennes. He is currently directing field projects on megalithic monuments in western France and Senegal. Chris Scarre is Professor of Archaeology at Durham University, and specialises in the Neolithic monumentality of the Atlantic facade of Europe. He has excavated at megalithic monuments in western France, Portugal and the Channel Islands.
1. Preface: megalithic architecture in Europe Luc Laporte& Chris Scarre Section 1: The megalith-builders 2. Menga (Andalucia, Spain): the biography of an exceptional megalithic monument Leonardo Garcia Sanjuan& Jose Antonio Lozano Rodriguez 3. Structural functions and architectural projects within the long monuments of Western France Luc Laporte 4. Megalithic building techniques in the Languedoc region of southern France: recent excvations at two dolmens in Herault Noisette Bec Drelon 5. Megalithic constructional techniques in north-west France: cairn III at Prisse-la-Charriere Florian Cousseau 6. A monumental task: building the dolmens of Britain and Ireland Vicki Cummings& Colin Richards 7. The megalithic construction process and the building of passage graves in Denmark Torben Dehn 8. Accident or design? Chambers, cairns and funerary practices in Neolithic western Europe Chris Scarre 9. Dolmens without mounds in Denmark Palle Eriksen and Niels H. Anderson 10. In the eye of the beholder Jorgen Westphal Section 2: Cemeteries and sequences 11. Building forever or just for the time being? A view from north-western Iberia Ramon Fabregas Valcarce& X.I. Vilaseco Vazquez 12. The megalithic architecture of Huelva (Spain): typology, construction and technical traditions eastern Andevalo Jose Antonio Linares Catela 13. The clustering of megalithic monuments around the causewayed enclosures at Sarup on Funen, Denmark Niels H. Andersen 14. Two types of megaliths and an unusual dolmen at Lont (Denmark) Anne Birgitte Gebauer 15. Common motivation, different intentions? A multiscalar approach to the megalithic architecture of the Funnel Beaker North Group Franziska Hage, Georg Schafferer& Martin Hinz Section 3: Chronologies and context 16. Between East and West: megaliths in the centre of the Iberian peninsula Primitiva Bueno Ramirez, Rosa Barroso Bermejo& Rodrigo de Balbin Behrmann 17. Megalithic hollows: rock-cut tombs between the Tagus and the Guadiana Leonor Rocha 18. Houses of the dead and natural rocks: new evidence from western France Philippe Gouezin 19. The stone rows of Hoedic (Morbihan) and the construction of alignments in western France Jean-Marc Large& Emmanuel Mens 20. Paintings in the megalithic monuments of Brittany Primitiva Bueno Ramirez, Rodrigo de Balbin Behrmann, Luc Laporte, Philippe Gouezin, Rosa Barroso Bermejo, Antonio Hernanz Gismero, JoseM. Gavira-Vallejo & Mercedes Iriarte Cela 21. Stability in a changing world: insights from settlement intensity patterns and archaeobotany Martin Hinz& Wiebke Kirleis Part 4: Conclusion 22. Ostentation, power, and megaliths: the example of Easter Island Nicolas Cauwe 23. A southern point of view Primitiva Bueno Ramirez& Luc Laporte 24. A northern point of view Chris Scarre& Torben Dehn