A menhir (from Brittonic languages: maen or men, "stone" and hir or hîr, "long"[1]), standing stone, orthostat, or lith is a large man-made upright stone, typically dating from the European middle Bronze Age. They can be found solely as monoliths, or as part of a group of similar stones. Menhirs' size can vary considerably, but they are generally uneven and squared, often tapering towards the top.

They are widely distributed across Europe, Africa and Asia, but most numerous in Western Europe; particularly in Ireland, Great Britain, Brittany and France, where there are about 50,000 examples,[2] while there are 1,200 menhirs in northwest France alone.[3] Standing stones are usually difficult to date, but pottery, or pottery shards, found underneath some in Atlantic Europe connects them with the Beaker people. They were constructed during many different periods across pre-history as part of the larger megalithic cultures in Europe and near areas.

Some menhirs have been erected next to buildings that often have an early or current religious significance. One example is the South Zeal Menhir in Devon, which formed the basis for a 12th-century monastery built by lay monks. The monastery later became the Oxenham Arms hotel, at South Zeal, and the standing stone remains in place in the ancient snug bar at the hotel.

Where menhirs appear in groups, often in a circular, oval, henge or horseshoe formation, they are sometimes called megalithic monuments. These are sites of ancient religious ceremonies, sometimes containing burial chambers.[4] The exact function of menhirs has provoked more debate than practically any other issue in European pre-history. Over the centuries, they have variously been thought to have been used by Druids for human sacrifice, used as territorial markers, or elements of a complex ideological system, or functioned as early calendars.[5] Until the nineteenth century, antiquarians did not have substantial knowledge of prehistory, and their only reference points were provided by classical literature. The developments of radiocarbon dating and dendrochronology have significantly advanced scientific knowledge in this area.

The word menhir was adopted from French by 19th-century archaeologists. The introduction of the word into general archaeological usage has been attributed to the 18th-century French military officer Théophile Corret de la Tour d'Auvergne.[6] It is a combination of two words of the Breton language: maen and hir. In modern Welsh, they are described as maen hir, or "long stone". In modern Breton, the word peulvan is used, with peul meaning "stake" or "post" and van which is a soft mutation of the word maen which means "stone".

Large menhir located between Millstreet and Ballinagree, County Cork, Ireland


Carnac Geant du Manio
The Géant du Manio, a menhir in Carnac, Brittany

Almost nothing is known of the social organization or religious beliefs of the people who erected the menhirs. There is not even any trace of these people's language; however we do know that they buried their dead and had the skills to grow cereal, farm and make pottery, stone tools and jewelry. Identifying their uses remains speculative. Until recently, menhirs were associated with the Beaker people, who inhabited Europe during the European late Neolithic and early Bronze Age—later third millennium BC, c. 2800–1800 BC. However, recent research into the age of megaliths in Brittany strongly suggests a far older origin, perhaps back to six to seven thousand years ago.[7]

Many menhirs are engraved with megalithic art. This often turned them into anthropomorphic stelae, although images of objects such as stone axes, ploughs, shepherd crooks and yokes were common. With the exception of the stone axe, none of these motifs are definite, and the name used to describe them is largely for convenience. Some menhirs were broken up and incorporated into later passage graves, where they had new megalithic art carved with little regard for the previous pictures. It is not known if this re-use was deliberate or if the passage grave builders just saw menhirs as a convenient source of stone (Le Roux 1992).

During the Middle Ages, standing stones were believed to have been built by the giants who lived before the biblical flood. Many of the megaliths were destroyed or defaced by early Christians, but it is estimated that some 50,000 megaliths once stood in Northern Europe, where almost 10,000 now remain.[8]

See also


  1. ^ Anon. "Menhir". The Free Dictionary. Farlex, Inc. Retrieved 15 December 2010.
  2. ^ Greene, Janice (January 2006). Strange But True Stories. ISBN 1-59905-010-2. Retrieved 25 August 2011.
  3. ^ Oliphant, Margaret "The Atlas Of The Ancient World" 1992 p. 81
  4. ^ Chris Roberts, Heavy Words Lightly Thrown: The Reason Behind Rhyme, Thorndike Press,2006 (ISBN 0-7862-8517-6)
  5. ^ Patton, Mark. "Statements in Stone: Monuments and Society in Neolithic Brittany". (New York), Routledge, 1993. P. 4.
  6. ^ Landru, Philippe (23 August 2008). "LA TOUR D'AUVERGNE (Théophile Malo Corret de la Tour d'Auvergne : 1743-1800)". Retrieved 24 January 2018.
  7. ^ Aviva, Elyn; White, Gary. "Mysterious Megaliths: The Standing Stones of Carnac, Brittany, France". World and I, Vol. 13, October 1998.
  8. ^ Olsen, Brad (February 2004). "Carbnac". Sacred Places Around the World: 108 Destinations By Brad Olsen. Consortium of Collective Consciousness. p. 232. ISBN 1-888729-10-4. Retrieved 21 February 2010.


  • Le Roux, C. T. 1992. "The Art of Gavrinis Presented in its Armorican Context and in Comparison with Ireland." in Journal of the Royal Society of Antiquaries of Ireland vol. 122, pp 79–108.
  • Mohen, Jean-Pierre. 2000. Standing Stones. Stonehenge, Carnac and the World of Megaliths, ‘New Horizons’ series. London: Thames & Hudson. ISBN 0-500-30090-9.

External links

Almendres Cromlech

The Cromlech of the Almendres (Portuguese: Cromeleque dos Almendres/Cromeleque na Herdade dos Almendres) is a megalithic complex (commonly known as the Almendres Cromlech), located near the village of Nossa Senhora de Guadalupe, in the civil parish of Nossa Senhora da Tourega e Nossa Senhora de Guadalupe, municipality of Évora, in the Portuguese Alentejo. The largest existing group of structured menhirs in the Iberian Peninsula (and one of the largest in Europe), this archaeological site consists of several megalithic structures: cromlechs and menhir stones, that belong to the so-called "megalithic universe of Évora", with clear parallels to other cromlechs in Portela Mogos (in Montemor-o-Novo).

Asterix and the Big Fight (film)

Asterix and the Big Fight (Astérix et le coup du menhir) is a 1989 French-German animated film directed by Philippe Grimond and produced by Yannick Piel. It is based on the Asterix comic book series. The film has a different plot from the book of the same name. It combines plot elements from Asterix and the Big Fight and Asterix and the Soothsayer. Although there is plenty of fighting — as usual for an Asterix story — the actual fight that the story is named for is not part of the movie's plot. The novelization was titled "Operation Getafix" (the German translation of the film was Operation Hinkelstein, a hinkelstein being a menhir).


Blandas is a commune in the Gard department in southern France. It is known for its proximity to the Cirque de Navacelles and the town encompasses one of the principal overlooks on the Cirque. It is also for its exceptional megalithic sites. It is included in the UNESCO world heritage site "The Causses and the Cévennes, Mediterranean agro-pastoral Cultural Landscape"


Broquiès is a commune in the Aveyron department in southern France.


Drizzlecombe or Thrushelcombe is an area of Dartmoor in the county of Devon, England, containing a number of Bronze Age stone rows, cairns and menhirs.

There are three principal stone rows each with an associated barrow and terminal menhir. Most of the artifacts are on the southwest slope of Hartor Hill. The tallest menhir, which at 14 ft (4.3 m) high is the largest on Dartmoor, was re-erected by Sabine Baring-Gould, R. Hansford Worth and others in 1893.Drizzlecombe is located on the western side of Dartmoor, about 4 miles (6.4 km) east of the village of Yelverton, to the west of the upper reaches of the River Plym.

Nearby is the large but damaged cairn known as Giant's Basin; many of its stones were removed by warreners to build their rabbit-warrens at Ditsworthy, lower down the river. Higher up the slope and overlooking these monuments is a village of stone hut circles, akin to the one at Grimspound. To the north-east lie the extensive remains of Eylesbarrow tin mine and north-west is the concentric Yellowmead stone circle. The area also includes the Neolithic Dartmoor kistvaens, or tombs.

Fraubillen cross

The Fraubillen cross (German: Fraubillenkreuz) is a menhir, which has been resculpted into a cross. It stands by a wayside on the Ferschweiler Plateau in the Eifel mountains in Germany, between Ferschweiler, Schankweiler, Nusbaum-Rohrbach and Bollendorf.

According to tradition, the celebrated missionary in the Eifel region, Willibrord refashioned the roughly 5,000-year-old menhir by hand into the shape of a cross as a Christian monument. Two niches for figures have been chiselled into the rock, each surrounded by holes. Today, the cross is about 3.5 metres high.

The origin of its name is unclear. It could be derived from Unsere lieben Frau Bild-Kreuz, "Sculpted Cross of Our Dear Lady". Another possibility is that the name is derived from Sibyl, which was given to prophetic women. Evidence of the latter is that the menhir was mentioned in 1617 as the Sybillen Creutz ("Sybil Cross").


Klobuky is a village in Central Bohemian Region of the Czech Republic. It is located in an agricultural (growing mainly various grain, sugar beet and sunflower) landscape about 10 km northwest of Slaný or 39 km northwest of Prague and has a population of 1,069 (2015). Neighbouring villages of Čeradice, Kobylníky, Kokovice and Páleček are administrative parts of Klobuky.

Klobuky is mentioned for the first time in 1226 as property of cloister of Doksany. According to Antonín Profous the name of the village probably derives from its ancient owner or founder named Klobouk (Czech for "hat", in old Czech also for "helmet"). Hence the helmet in recently (2005) adopted coat of arms.

The major local sight is an alleged prehistoric menhir, with height of 3.3 m (11 ft) the tallest in the Czech Republic. It is an upright, lonely standing stone, called Zkamenělý pastýř ("Shepherd turned-into-stone") or Kamenný muž ("Stone Man"), in a field several hundred metres northwest of the village, close to road towards Telce.

Local church of St Lawrence dates back to 14th century, but it was rebuilt between 1729 and 1736.

Jan Malypetr, a Czech politician, prime minister of Czechoslovakia, was born in Klobuky in 1873. Ivan Krasko, a Slovak poet, worked as chemist in local sugar refinery. Jindřich Šimon Baar, a Czech writer, was a Roman Catholic priest in Klobuky for ten years between 1899 and 1909.

Leper Stone

The Leper Stone or Newport Stone (grid reference TL520349) is a large sarsen stone near the village of Newport, Essex. The name Leper Stone probably derives from the hospital of St. Mary and St. Leonard (fn. 1156?), a nearby hospital for lepers. Passers by could have left offerings of alms for the hospital residents in a small depression atop the stone; the hospital grounds were sold in the sixteenth century, and only a portion of the wall near the stone remains.Julian Cope, Peter Herring, UK Geocaching along with D.G. Buckley and Ken Newton's paper for the Council of British Archaeology have suggested that the Leper Stone was set vertically in the ground as a megalithic menhir or standing stone. J.D. Hedges report of 1980 also classified it as a standing stone for English Heritage, who describe this type of monument as A stone or boulder which has been deliberately set upright in the ground. Similarly it has been described as a monolith by the Proceedings of the Cambridge Antiquarian society.

List of Asterix games

This is a list of Asterix games of all varieties (book, board and video).


Locmariaquer (Breton: Lokmaria-Kaer) is a commune in the Morbihan department in Brittany in north-western France.

It lies 8.5 mi (13.7 km) south of Auray by road.

Locmariaquer megaliths

The Locmariaquer megaliths are a complex of Neolithic constructions in Locmariaquer, Brittany. They comprise the elaborate Er-Grah tumulus passage grave, a dolmen known as the Table des Marchand and "The Broken Menhir of Er Grah", the largest known single block of stone to have been transported and erected by Neolithic people.

Maen Madoc

The Maen Madoc or Maen Madog stone is a menhir which lies adjacent to the Roman road Sarn Helen that runs across the Brecon Beacons in what was a key area of Roman Wales, about one mile (2km) north of Ystradfellte. It stands approximately 10 feet high.

It is thought to mark a Christian burial – the stone is inscribed on one side, the Latin inscription reading DERVAC(IVS) FILIVS IVSTI (H)IC IACIT – "Of Dervacus, Son of Justus. He lies here".

Though the stone is named after a Madoc, nothing is known of the Madoc referred to. The base of stone is surrounded by deeply embedded stones and this may mark the grave itself.

Maen Madoc can be found at SN918157 on the Brecon Beacons West and Central map.

Menhir de Champ-Dolent

The Menhir de Champ-Dolent is a menhir, or upright standing stone, located in a field outside the town of Dol-de-Bretagne. It is the largest standing stone in Brittany and is over 9 meters high.

Obelix and Co.

Obelix and Co. is the twenty-third volume of the Asterix comic book series, by René Goscinny (stories) and Albert Uderzo (illustrations). The book's main focus is on the attempts by the Gaul-occupying Romans to corrupt the one remaining village that still holds out against them by instilling capitalism. It is also the penultimate volume written by Goscinny before his death in 1977; his final volume, Asterix in Belgium, was released after his death in 1979.

Rudston Monolith

The Rudston Monolith at over 7.6 metres (25 ft) is the tallest megalith (standing stone) in the United Kingdom. It is situated in the churchyard in the village of Rudston (grid reference TA098678) in the East Riding of Yorkshire.

Statue menhir

A statue menhir is a type of carved standing stone created during the later European Neolithic.

The statues consist of a vertical slab or pillar with a stylised design of a human figure cut into it, sometimes with hints of clothing or weapons visible.

Verziau of Gargantua

The verziau of Gargantua (or vierzeux of Gargantua), also known under the name of Haute-Borne is a menhir at Bois-lès-Pargny in France.


Vilamaniscle is a municipality in the comarca of Alt Empordà, Girona, Catalonia, Spain. It is located in the western part of the Serra de la Baga d'en Ferràn, a branch of the Albera Range. Much of its municipal term is covered with pine and cork oak trees. The main crops are olives and grapes. Local wine is appreciated all over the country. New hosting services are growing due to tourism.

Vilamaniscle is the home for around 120 inhabitants today. The village is a varied picture of some restored homes, other in the process of restoration and still others that wait for their renovation. The majority of the houses were built between the 17th and 19th century. Vilamaniscle is dominated by the "Castell", a three-level unrestored building whose origin is difficult to date. In the prehistoric time people probably lived here, the evidence being the three-metres-high menhir "Pedra Dreta" which is very close to Vilamaniscle.

Wotanstein (Hesse)

The Wotanstein (English: Wotan's stone), also known as 'Wodanstein' or earlier on 'Malstein', is a small megalith or menhir situated close to the village of Maden, Schwalm-Eder-Kreis, Hesse, Germany.

European megaliths
United Kingdom
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