Megalitter i Portugal

Der er en stor koncentration omkring Évora, en by midt i Portugal.

Anta Grande do Zambujeiro

Anta Grande do Zambujeiro

Burial Chamber (Dolmen) in Alentejo

Located in the Alentejo, 10 km west from Évora, in the district of the same name. Probably the largest burial chamber (dolmen) in the Iberian Peninsula.

It is now covered with a corrugated tin roof, which spoils the view, but protects the monument. not the same as Anta da Zambujeiro already registered near São Geraldo.

Cromeleque dos Almendres

Stone Circle in Alentejo

Located in the Alentejo, 10 km west of Évora, in the district of the same name. The site has 94 menhirs of several shapes and sizes. It is well kept and visited by many tourists.

Menhir Almendres

Standing Stone (Menhir) in Alentejo

Anta do Pinheiro 2

Burial Chamber (Dolmen) in Alentejo

A rather typical "anta", even an average example of their present conservation. The top stone is fallen, but the vertical, supporting ones are there. It's on the roadside of N370, a few kilometres after the crossroad with N114 (Montemor-o-Novo to Évora), turning to S. Sebastiao da Giesteira and Santiago do Escoural. It was possible to go to the "anta" last year (2005), but no longer. Its counterpart, Anta do Pinheiro 1, though having a new signpost, was likewise made inaccessible.

Anta dos Tourais 1

Burial Chamber (Dolmen) in Alentejo

On the road form Montemor-O-Novo to Évora, just a few km after Montemor and after Tourais 2, on the slope of a hilltop, to the right (South). Access is a private road.

Anta do Paço 1

Burial Chamber (Dolmen) in Alentejo

This is one of a close pair. Access is mostly by dirt road, so don't drive there unless prepared and the road is dry enough, as the place is isolated.

On the N2 road, when going from S. Geraldo to Ciborro, when you see the Monte da Abrunheira on your right, turn left on the dirt road. Near a creek, with a simple concrete platform bridge, but before it, open the gate on your left (close it right after passing, so that the cattle doesn't escape). Turn right, go around the round-top coal-making ovens by the left, and keep on. In case of recent rain access may be difficult, as there's a creek and signs of muddy road used by farming machinery.

Until recently they were used as dwellings.

The Anta 2 can be seen WNW from this one, at 75 m; actually you might have seen it before this one. There's a pleasant set of stones between the creek and the road (N 38,77084 W 8,22196) on the way back.

the megalithic chamber structures of the Alentejo region of Portugal. Built by people of the period we now call "Neolithic", these "antas", as they are called in Portugal, consisted of a chamber, usually with seven large flat stones (called "orthostats") standing on end, and a corridor of two rows of smaller orthostats, both covered with large slabs of stone. The whole structure was then covered by a mound of earth, leaving the corridor as the only entrance. While the original use of these mysterious structures is not known, I think they were probably temples for the worship of a deity, possibly a goddess associated with the star cluster now called the Pleiades. In November 2001 I spent two weeks in the Alentejo locating and measuring 61 antas. Preliminary analysis shows that a very large percentage seem to have been aligned to a direction, or "azimuth", of between 100 and 110 degrees, measured Eastward from North. The Pleiades were rising at 110 degrees beginning about 7300 years ago and their rising point was at 100 degrees about 1500 years later. This shift is caused by Precession of the Equinoxes. Perhaps coincidentally, there are seven stars in the Pleiades cluster that can be seen in a clear dark sky, matching the seven orthostats of the anta chambers.

The sites for these structures were consistently chosen for their clear view of the horizon in the alignment direction. Only in two cases do hills rise to a height of as much as three degrees above horizontal in the alignment direction. Because the atmosphere would prevent stars like the Pleiades from becoming visible until they are about 6 degrees above the horizon, even these hills would not obstruct the view of the stars. The association with the Pleiades is intriguing. Many sources cite the Pleiades as a sacred grouping of stars which figured prominently in the spiritual lives of many cultures, including ancient ones. Because it is the only such cluster in which the brightest individual stars can be seen with the unaided eye, and perhaps also because of its association with the very ancient constellation of Taurus,the Bull, this group of stars would have been very likely to be considered special. What is the real meaning behind the ancient urge to build using huge stones? To build and continue the use of these monuments requires a commitment that must extend over a long time and be communicated to future generations, so that the work can be carried on. It is this shared commitment that imbues these structures with meaning and magic, and causes them to speak to us across the ages in a language all can understand, even thousands of years after their creation and the passing of their creators. Though the continuity of ceremonial intent lasted for generations, we now can only guess at their original purpose and use, based on study of the remains of the megaliths.

The Anta da Bota is typical in size and condition

One obstacle to understanding the purpose of the antas is a lack of clearness about their actual age. Artifact associations have dated them to about 3000BC, but it is not known whether the artifacts were contemporary with construction or were placed long after the antas were built. If their use was connected with the stars, and the particular stars could be identified, dating of the construction could be based on star positions and precession. However, it is necessary to verify the ages of a sample of the antas by other means to ensure that the star/precession method is correct. A new dating method, optically stimulated luminesence, could resolve this question. This method can determine how long it has been since a soil sample was last exposed to daylight. Because the soil fill around the antas was placed by hand, it would have been exposed to sunlight then. If samples could be obtained from fill undisturbed since placement, they could yield a construction date accurate to about 5% of the true age. An effort is under way to obtain permission and funds to enable an investigation of the ages of the antas using optically stimulated luminesence.

Around Evora are also numerous prehistoric monuments -- dozens of sizeable Neolithic menhirs, cromlechs, and dolmens (the one in Zambujeiro, now a national monument, is the largest in Europe, consisting of seven stones, each 6m/20ft high, forming a huge chamber). The Cromlech of Almendres dating from somewhere between 4000 and 2000 B.C has been called "the Portuguese Stonehenge." It is the most important megalithic group in the Iberian Peninsula, consisting of a huge oval of almost one hundred rounded granite monoliths, some engraved with symbolic markings, assumed to have been used for cult purposes. They have their origins in a culture that flourished in the Iberian Peninsula before spreading north as far as Brittany and Denmark.

A couple of kilometers east is the Cave of Escoural, a cave adorned with charcoal drawings of horses and other animals, the work of Cro-Magnon artists some 15,000 years ago. There are free tours organized on the site. For more information about these sites, how to get to them, or to book tours, visit the Evora Tourism Office.

Almendres Cromlech

The impressive Cromeleque dos Almendres, overlooking Evora below. Public domain.

Boasting a spectacular hillside location among olive and cork trees, the Almendres Cromlech (Cromeleque dos Almendres) stone circle is the most important megalithic site in Portugal. Consisting of 96 standing stones arranged in an oval, it dates from 5000-4000 BC. A dirt road (passable by cars) leads the last 4.5 km to the site.

History The stones of the Cromeleque dos Almendres were erected in several different periods in the Neolithic era, between 5000 and 4000 BC. As with most prehistoric sites, its purpose is not known for certain. The stones seem to be astronomically and geometrically aligned and were probably used for sacred rituals of some kind.

What to See It is easy to see why the prehistoric inhabitants of Portugal regarded this site as sacred. Enjoying a peaceful setting among olive and cork trees, the stones occupy a hillside with grand views. Today, this view includes the town of Evora, originally founded as a Roman settlement in the 1st century BC.

About 95 stones are aligned in an oval shape that extends some 70 meters down the hillside. The stones face downhill, like frozen figures enjoying the view. Some of the stones are engraved with designs.

Getting There

The Almendres Cromlech is located 15km west of Evora. From Evora, take the N114 highway towards Montemor/Lisbon and follow the signs for the site from Guadalupe. If coming from the south, from Escoural and Valverde, turn left in Guadalupe at the Café Barreiros.

Pagan Sites of Portugal by Ricardo Campos

THERE ARE MANY, many Pagan monuments in Portugal that will appeal to the traveller in search of sacred spaces. This short article will introduce you to a very small number among hundreds of beautiful pre-Christian sites in my country. I hope someday you may come to visit them and open yourselves to their inspiration.

Portugal has perhaps the very oldest megaliths in Europe, some of them quite remarkable, and there is much evidence of varied Pagan cults and places of worship.

Some natives of the British Isles might be surprised by the similarity between many of the Portuguese dolmens and the ones of their own countries. That is explained by the fact that there are close affinities between the megalithic period of Portugal and that of France and the British Isles; T. D. Kendrick talked about a western province comprising Portugal, Spain, western and south-western France and Britain and Ireland that would have been a single cultural entity throughout the Bronze Age. But there is more than megaliths when it comes to ancient places of worship. Obviously I will just pick a couple of my favourites for inclusion here.

A few words about the old Gods of Portugal: The stone ex-votos of the Roman age contain the names of many gods whose sphere of influence we can sometimes guess from their Celtic philological root. Thus we know today about such gods as Bormanico, Runesocesius, or the goddesses Trebaruna and Ataegina. Perhaps the greatest divinity of Lusitania (the name of the old province largely corresponding to the Portugal of today) was the god Endovellico, who was related to healing and the afterlife. Apparently the worshippers spent the night inside his sanctuary (in which there was also an oracle) in order to have dream revelations. It is also believed that there might have existed a trinity of which Endovellico was the main god, Runesus Cesius the war god (his name seems to mean something like mystery god armed with dart) and Ataegina the fertility and agrarian goddess.

Stone circle of Almendres

This is the largest stone circle of the Iberian peninsula and one of the most important in Europe. It was identified to the modern world in 1964 and the first of its several phases of construction took place in the 5th millennium BCE (early Neolithic). It stands on a gentle slope facing east near the summit of an important hilltop somewhat near Evora, in the region of Alentejo. It was doubtless a place for social assembly, linked to astral observations and predictions, and some of its menhirs have carvings with social and religious symbology. One of them reveals three radial solar representations; this iconography is believed to correspond to a religious superstructure centred on a female super-divinity idealised with huge sun-like eyes, the great Mediterranean Mother-Goddess. This carving strikes me as curiously similar to the Awen. Certainly this would be one of the choice places for a modern Druid celebration in Portugal.

The sanctuary of Mogueira

The sanctuary of Mogueira is one of a number of fascinating pre-Roman hilltop sanctuaries in Portugal. There are three rough walls around the hill, some of them joined to natural outcrops of granite. The sanctuary has several steps and stairs as well as basins and other peculiarities carved on the rock itself. The rugged look of the whole site is common to other such sanctuaries in the Northwest of Portugal. No one can know for sure what rituals were undertaken here, but the basins and the small canals connecting them are suggestive of libations.

Menhir of Meada

This is probably the tallest monolith in the Iberian Peninsula (7.15 metres tall) and it was found broken in two. It is likely to have been erected during the beginning of the fourth millennium BCE. Its disjunction probably took place during the Roman age. After a lot of hard work (due to its 16 tons of weight) it was eventually re-erected in 1993. Apparently its height is due to the fact that it belongs to a line of menhirs which were carefully arranged so that each one was visible from the next (the Menhir of Meada stands in a lower elevation than the others. It is located near Marvao, possibly the most beautiful Mediaeval village you'll ever see anywhere ( I mean it).

Dolmen of St. Dinis

The Anta de Sao Dinis is one of a number of dolmens in Portugal that were Christianised. It is a large dolmen (3.3 metres tall) and it is to be found inside the town of Pavia. Sometime around the early 17th century it was turned into a surprising Christian chapel.

Menhir of Bulhoa

This menhir (which was restored and re-erected in 1970) is one of the several decorated megaliths in Portugal (some of them are even more spectacular), portraying a solar representation and wavy lines of difficult interpretation. There is a carving that seems to depict an object that is sometimes found in the dolmens and which seems to be connected with social or religious authority.

Citnia de Briteiros In the North of Portugal and Galicia in Spain nearly every hilltop has a pre-Roman settlement, called Castro. One of the most astonishing is Briteiros, a veritable city of pre-Roman origin (despite having been expanded already during the Roman age). Walking the streets of the ruins of Citania de Briteiros is an enthralling experience. Local epigraphy shows us the Celtic names of some of its inhabitants ( the North of Portugal and Galicia are one of the regions of Iberia where the Celtic peoples more strongly established themselves, together with Celtiberia in central Spain and Alentejo in Portugal. From these Castros came the famous statues of bearded warriors with torcs around their necks (beautiful golden torcs were also found). The other notable sculptures of possible Celtic origin from these areas are the more widespread statues of boars, whose precise meaning is also lost.

Anta Grande do Zambujeiro This is the largest Dolmen in the Iberian Peninsula, a monumental structure with upright stones over 6 metres tall. It was found intact in 1964 (still inside its original earth mound) and it was the object of a careless excavation and poor measures of protection and conservation. I believe some archaeologists are developing efforts in order to change this state of affairs. Still, its size alone is enough for me to choose to include it here.

Fountain of the Idol Inside the beautiful city of Braga there is a garden in which there is a most remarkable monument: a fountain of the Roman age dedicated to a local pre-Roman god. On a granite rock, from which the fountain springs, was sculpted the image of a bearded man holding something that is assumed to be a basket with fruit (probably a representation of the god) and beside it, a kind of frame surrounding the bust of a man (probably the dedicator). There are also two inscriptions: one is Celicus Fronto Arcobrigensis Ambimogidus Fecit (which means something like Celico Fronto, from the city of Arcobriga of the Ambimogidus) certainly an ethnic group. Both Arcobriga and Ambimogidus are names of Celtic etymology, which is also the case of the name of the god to whom the fountain is dedicated (the other inscription): Tongoenabiagoí. In ancient Celtic it seems to mean something like God of the fountain of the oaths. So we have here a sacred spring where people certainly made promises to the divinity. I am sure all readers will appreciate the importance and singularity of this monument.

Menhir of Rocha dos Namorados This is a large and unusually shaped menhir (it has been compared to a mushroom, or even a female uterus) that is connected to an obviously Pagan tradition (that to my knowledge is found in at least one other menhir in Portugal and another in Spain near the border): during Easter Monday, young girls throw little stones onto its top, and every stone that falls down before one staying at the top means one year that they will remain unwed. Rocha dos Namorados means Rock of the Lovers and its top is heaped with little stones. Another interesting feature is that at a date I do not know (but which must have been over a century ago) someone carved a large decorated crucifix on a face of the menhir.

Session abstract: Over the millennia, but especially during the last few centuries, a large number of megalithic tombs have been destroyed. For several decades the knowledge about megalithic tombs was based on excavations of well-preserved tombs. A common opinion was that, with the destruction of structures visible above the surface, information about the megalithic tomb had disappeared forever. It was of no use to excavate any remaining parts, especially as there were many well-preserved tombs to which research efforts could be directed. Today not many tombs remain unexcavated, and those that exist deserve to be protected. Therefore research has aimed at megalithic tombs in greater or lesser states of destruction. Intensified rescue excavations have resulted in the identification of previously unknown megalithic tombs. In addition, old surveys and maps provide a different view of megalithic tombs than the present situation. The session will demonstrate that the so-called destroyed megalithic tombs generate broad information and are of major importance for new knowledge about Neolithic societies.

Externe referencer

For yderliger information, prøv at se på følgende hjemmesider:

Megalitter i Portugal

Almendres Cromlech

Anta Grande do Zambujeiro

Category:Dolmens in Portugal

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