Dolmen

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A dolmen—also known as a portal tomb, portal grave, cromlech (Welsh), anta (Portuguese), Hünengrab/Hünenbett (German), Adamra (Abkhazian), Ispun (Circassian), Hunebed (Dutch), dös (Swedish), goindol (Korean) or quoit—is a type of single-chamber megalithic tomb, usually consisting of three or more upright stones supporting a large flat horizontal capstone (table). Most date from the early Neolithic period (4000 to 3000 BCE). Dolmens were usually covered with earth or smaller stones to form a barrow, though in many cases that covering has weathered away, leaving only the stone "skeleton" of the burial mound intact.

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Etymology

"Dolmen" originates from the expression taol maen, which means "stone table" in Breton, and was first used archaeologically in Théophile Corret de la Tour d'Auvergne's Origines gauloises.[1] The etymology of the German Hünenbett or Hünengrab and Dutch Hunebed all evoke the image of giants building the structures. Of other Celtic languages, "cromlech" derives from Welsh and "quoit" is commonly used in Cornwall. Anta is the term used in Portugal, and dös or dyss in Sweden.

Dolmen sites

Europe

Megalithic tombs are found from the 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. It has been suggested that this means they are related to the passage graves found in Denmark and elsewhere.

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