Passage grave

A passage grave (sometimes hyphenated) or passage tomb consists of a narrow passage made of large stones and one or multiple burial chambers covered in earth or stone. The building of passage tombs was normally carried out with megaliths and smaller stones; they usually date from the Neolithic Age. Those with more than one chamber may have multiple sub-chambers leading off from the main burial chamber. One common layout, the cruciform passage grave, is cross-shaped. Sometimes passage tombs are covered with a cairn, especially those dating from later times. Not all passage graves have been found to contain evidence of human remains. One such example is Maeshowe. The Passage Tomb tradition is believed to have originated in the French region of Brittany. It was introduced to other regions such as Ireland by colonists from Brittany.[1]

Passage tombs of the cairn type often have elaborate corbelled roofs rather than simple slabs. Megalithic art has been identified carved into the stones at some sites. The passage itself, in a number of notable instances, is aligned in such a way that the sun shines into the passage at a significant point in the year, for example at sunrise on the winter solstice or at sunset on the equinox.

Tustrup jaettestue
Tustrup-dysserne, the largest passage grave in Eastern Jutland, is an example of Funnelbeaker culture circa 3200 BC.

In a 1961 survey of megalithic tombs in Ireland, Irish scholars Seán Ó Nualláin and Rúaidhrí de Valera describe four categories of megalithic tombs: court cairns, portal dolmens, wedge-shaped gallery graves, and passage tombs.[2] This appears to be one of the first uses of the term. It is likely that the writers borrowed from the Spanish term tumbas de corredor, which is used for tombs in Cantabria, Galicia and the Basque Country. Of their list, only passage tombs appear to have widespread distribution throughout Europe.

Passage graves are distributed extensively in lands along the Atlantic seaboard of Europe. They are found in Ireland, Britain, Scandinavia, northern Germany and the Drenthe area of the Netherlands. They are also found in Iberia, some parts of the Mediterranean, and along the northern coast of Africa. The earliest passage tombs seem to take the form of small dolmens. In Ireland and Britain, passage tombs are often found in large clusters, giving rise to the term passage tomb cemeteries. Many later passage tombs were constructed at the tops of hills or mountains, indicating that their builders intended them to be seen from a great distance.

Thap passage tomb
A simple passage tomb in Carrowmore near Sligo in Ireland

References

  1. ^ Sheridan, Alison. "Megaliths and Megalomania: An account and interpretation of the development of passage tombs in Ireland". The Journal of Irish Archaeology. 3: 17–30.
  2. ^ Ó Nualláin, Seán & De Valera, Rúaidhrí (1961). Survey of the Megalithic Tombs of Ireland. Dublin: Ordnance Survey (Ireland).CS1 maint: Multiple names: authors list (link)

External links

Ballynahatty, County Down

Ballynahatty (from Irish Baile na hÁite Tí, meaning 'townland of the house site') is a townland in County Down, Northern Ireland. It lies on the southern edge of Belfast. It contains the Giants Ring, a henge monument, consisting of a circular enclosure, 200m in diameter, surrounded with a 4m high earthwork bank with five entrances, and a small neolithic passage grave slightly off-centre. The Giant's Ring is a State Care Historic Monument at grid ref: J3272 6770.The remains of a woman who was part of a Neolithic farming community were discovered buried in the henge in 1855. Now known as Ballynahatty woman, her genome was sequenced in 2015 and reveals a woman with black hair and brown eyes typical of those with Mediterranean heritage. This implies that Ballynahatty woman was part of a group of early European farmers that migrated across Europe in the Neolithic period, originating in the Middle East.

Ballynahatty is also a townland, in the parish of Drumragh, County Tyrone.

Bodowyr

Bodowyr Burial Chamber is a Neolithic burial chamber made of a few large stacked stones (also known as a dolmen or a passage grave) in a farmer's field on the north Wales island of Anglesey. It is located at Bodowyr Farm, 1.25 mi (2.0 km) east of Llangaffo, off the B4419 road.

Bryn Celli Ddu

Bryn Celli Ddu is a prehistoric site on the Welsh island of Anglesey located near Llanddaniel Fab. Its name means 'the mound in the dark grove'. It was archaeologically excavated between 1928 and 1929. Visitors can get inside the mound through a stone passage to the burial chamber, and it is the centrepiece of a major Neolithic Scheduled Monument in the care of Cadw. The presence of a mysterious pillar within the burial chamber, the reproduction of the 'Pattern Stone', carved with sinuous serpentine designs, and the fact that the site was once a henge with a stone circle, and may have been used to plot the date of the summer solstice have all attracted much interest.

Chamber tomb

A chamber tomb is a tomb for burial used in many different cultures. In the case of individual burials, the chamber is thought to signify a higher status for the interree than a simple grave. Built from rock or sometimes wood, the chambers could also serve as places for storage of the dead from one family or social group and were often used over long periods for multiple burials.

Most chamber tombs were constructed from large stones or megaliths and covered by cairns, barrows or earth. Some chamber tombs are rock-cut monuments or wooden-chambered tombs covered with earth barrows. Grave goods are a common characteristic of chamber tomb burials.

In Neolithic and Bronze Age Europe, stone-built examples of these burials are known by the generic term of megalithic tombs. Chamber tombs are often distinguished by the layout of their chambers and entrances or the shape and material of the structure that covered them, either an earth barrow or stone cairn. A wide variety of local types has been identified, and some designs appear to have influenced others.

Clava cairn

The Clava cairn is a type of Bronze Age circular chamber tomb cairn, named after the group of three cairns at Balnuaran of Clava, to the east of Inverness in Scotland. There are about 50 cairns of this type in an area round about Inverness. They fall into two sub-types, one typically consisting of a corbelled passage grave with a single burial chamber linked to the entrance by a short passage and covered with a cairn of stones, with the entrances oriented south west towards midwinter sunset. In the other sub-type an annular ring cairn encloses an apparently unroofed area with no formal means of access from the outside. In both sub-types a stone circle surrounds the whole tomb and a kerb often runs around the cairn. The heights of the standing stones vary in height so that the tallest fringe the entrance (oriented south west) and the shortest are directly opposite it.

Where Clava-type tombs have still contained burial remains, only one or two bodies appear to have been buried in each, and the lack of access to the second sub-type suggests that there was no intention of re-visiting the dead or communally adding future burials as had been the case with Neolithic cairn tombs.

Coetan Arthur

Coetan Arthur dolmen, also known as Arthur's Quoit (not to be confused with Carreg Coetan Arthur, near Newport) is the remains of a Neolithic burial chamber (also known as a quoit). It dates from around 3000 BCE. The site, situated on the hillside close to St Davids Head in Pembrokeshire, Wales, is the collapsed chamber of what is presumed to be a passage grave which also has a round barrow. The massive capstone measures approximately 6 metres by 2.5 metres and is supported on one side by an orthostat approximately 1.5 metres in height.

The headland is in the care of the National Trust and the site is a scheduled ancient monument.

Entrance grave

Entrance grave is a term given by archaeologists to a type of megalithic chamber tomb found in parts of Atlantic Europe, dating the early to middle Bronze Age.

Tombs of this type are covered with a round earth mound and contain a single chamber where the entrance area merges with the burial area itself, simply through a slight change in the alignment of the stone slab walls. They are also known as undifferentiated passage graves.

Entrance graves are found in Southern Spain and all along the Atlantic coast to Brittany. They are also present in southern Ireland, the Isles of Scilly and Cornwall.

An example is the Scillonian entrance grave group.

Funnelbeaker culture

The Funnel(-neck-)beaker culture, in short TRB or TBK (German: Trichter(-rand-)becherkultur, Dutch: Trechterbekercultuur; Danish: Tragtbægerkultur; c. 4300 BC–c. 2800 BC) was an archaeological culture in north-central Europe.

It developed as a technological merger of local neolithic and mesolithic techno-complexes between the lower Elbe and middle Vistula rivers, introducing farming and husbandry as a major source of food to the pottery-using hunter-gatherers north of this line.

It was preceded by Lengyel-influenced Stroke-ornamented ware culture (STK) groups/Late Lengyel and Baden-Boleráz in the southeast, Rössen groups in the southwest and the Ertebølle-Ellerbek groups in the north.

The TRB techno-complex is divided into a northern group including modern northern Germany and southern Scandinavia (TRB-N, roughly the area that previously belonged to the Ertebølle-Ellerbek complex), a western group in the Netherlands between the Zuiderzee and lower Elbe that originated in the Swifterbant culture, an eastern group centered on the Vistula catchment, roughly ranging from Oder to Bug, and south-central groups (TRB-MES, Altmark) around the middle and upper Elbe and Saale. Especially in the southern and eastern groups, local sequences of variants emerged. In the late 4th millennium BC, the Globular Amphora culture (KAK) replaced most of the eastern and subsequently also the southern TRB groups, reducing the TRB area to modern northern Germany and southern Scandinavia.

The younger TRB in these areas was superseded by the Single Grave culture (EGK) at about 2800 BC.

The north-central European megaliths were built primarily during the TRB era.

Gallery grave

A gallery grave is a form of megalithic tomb built primarily during the Neolithic Age in Europe in which the main gallery of the tomb is entered without first passing through an antechamber or hallway. There are at least four major types of gallery grave (complex, transepted, segmented, and wedge-shaped), and they may be covered with an earthen mound (or "tumulus") or rock mound (or "cairn").

Guardian stones

Guardian stones (German: Wächtersteine) are standing stones, always occurring in pairs, at the corners of rectangular and trapezoidally-arranged stone enclosures (hunebeds) around a dolmen. They are found especially in Scandinavia, in the German states of Mecklenburg-Vorpommern, Lower Saxony (Salongrab), Saxony-Anhalt (Drebenstedt, Leetze, Winterfeld) and occasionally in Holstein (Alter Hau). They are strikingly large stone blocks that form the corner post of enclosures or project above them like antae and lend the stone enclosures a monumental appearance.

Guardian stones are typical of trapezoidal enclosures. In Germany the most impressive examples of trapezoidal sites are Dwasieden, Dummertevitz and Nobbin on the island of Rügen.

At the Great Dolmen of Dwasieden, guardian stones of 3.3 and 3.5 metres in height guard the wide end of the dolmen and ones of 1.4 and 1.6 metres high stand sentinel at the narrow end.

At the wide end of the trapezoidal enclosure of Nobbin there are guardian stones of 3.3 and 3.4 metres in height, each weighing 25 tons. At the narrow end they are 1.5 metres high and weigh just under six tons.On the mainland, only a stone block at the enclosure of Kritzow, Parchim, reaches such a height. The guardian stones of sites in the Altmark are up to 2.8 metres high.

At several sites, guardian stones have been so arranged that the corner blocks jut out at an angle from the phalanx of stones. For example, the simple dolmen of Frauenmark, Parchim county, and the passage grave of Mellen, in the county of Prignitz. At the large passage grave of Naschendorf, Nordwestmecklenburg all the blocks at the narrow end are arranged in a concave way, so that the corners are very prominent. The same shape is seen at the wide end of the trapezoidal bed of Kruckow, Demmin county.

Entirely outside the phalanx of the enclosure are the guardian stones at a number of rectangular enclosures. These blocks are anta-like extensions of the stone sides of the enclosure and stand in front of it. Other guardian stones stand out very little or not at all from the rest of the stone enclosure. Examples are the enclosures of Grevesmühlen-Barendorf, Nordwestmecklenburg, Barkvieren, Rostock county and Mankmoos, Nordwestmecklenburg.

A variation of the guardian stone concept are those ends of long enclosures where all (four or five) almost equally high stones are many times higher than the stones along the two sides, as is the case at the Visbeker sites (Visbeker Braut und Bräutigam).

Investigations of the guardian stones of Dwasieden, Lancken-Granitz 1 and Nobbin revealed that the stones were not erected separately from the remaining blocks in the enclosures. Their bases are located at the same height as the other stones in the enclosure and there are or were always links in the shape of dry stone walls, to the other blocks. Although value was placed on especially high guardian stones, in general only glacial erratics were used that had a good surface on which to stand and therefore guaranteed stability. This necessity is demonstrated by the guardian stone of the Dwasieden site, which did not have a good base area for stability and fell over, as the 40 cup marks on its upper surface show.

Heart of Neolithic Orkney

Heart of Neolithic Orkney refers to a group of Neolithic monuments found on the Mainland, one of the islands of Orkney, Scotland. The name was adopted by UNESCO when it proclaimed these sites as a World Heritage Site in 1999.

The site of patrimony currently consists of four sites:

Maeshowe – a unique chambered cairn and passage grave, aligned so that its central chamber is illuminated on the winter solstice. It was looted by Vikings who left one of the largest collections of runic inscriptions in the world.

Standing Stones of Stenness – the four remaining megaliths of a henge, the largest of which is 6 metres (19 ft) high.

Ring of Brodgar – a stone circle 104 metres in diameter, originally composed of 60 stones set within a circular ditch up to 3 metres deep and 10 metres wide, forming a henge monument. It has been estimated that the structure took 80,000 man-hours to construct.

Skara Brae – a cluster of eight houses making up Northern Europe’s best-preserved Neolithic village.

Ness of Brodgar is an archaeological site between the Ring of Brodgar and the Stones of Stenness that has provided evidence of housing, decorated stone slabs, a massive stone wall with foundations, and a large building described as a Neolithic "cathedral". Although it is not part of the World Heritage Site, the Ness of Brodgar "contribute[s] greatly to our understanding of the WHS" according to Historic Scotland, which manages most of the site.In 2008, UNESCO expressed concern about plans by the local council to "erect three large 72 metres wind turbines to the north-west of the Stones of Stenness and the Ring of Brogdar" that might damage the site.

Jersey dolmens

The dolmens of Jersey are neolithic sites, including dolmens, in Jersey. They range over a wide period, from around 4800 BC to 2250 BC, these dates covering the periods roughly designated as Neolithic, or “new stone age”, to Chalcolithic, or “copper age”.

Before that, the dolmen La Cotte de St Brelade has evidence of habitation both by our near cousins, the Neanderthals, and early man. These come from the Paleolithic or “old stone age”, and belong to the period of the hunter-gatherer, where the tribe would forage in pursuit of food. In the case of La Cotte, as we know from remains, woolly mammoth was part of the diet.

Kong Svends Høj

Kong Svends Høj (English: King Svend's Mound) is a passage grave on the island of Lolland in Denmark, immediately north of Pederstrup. The chamber in the mound is 12.5 metres (41 ft) long and it is one of Denmark's largest and most famous passage graves.

Kävlinge

Kävlinge (Swedish pronunciation: [²ɕɛːvˌlɪŋɛ]) is a locality and the seat of Kävlinge Municipality, Skåne County, Sweden with 9,049 inhabitants in 2010.In 1996, a train containing large amounts of ammonia derailed and around 9,000 people had to be evacuated from the area. This was the biggest evacuation operation in Swedish history.Near Kävlinge is the site of the Hög passage grave, a Bronze Age barrow covering a neolithic burial chamber. Hög means mound from the Old Norse word haugr for hill. The finds from the excavations are in the Lund University Historic Museum.

La Hougue Bie

La Hougue Bie is a historic site, with museum, in the Jersey parish of Grouville. La Hougue Bie is depicted on the 2010 issue Jersey 1 pound note.

List of oldest known surviving buildings

This article lists the oldest known surviving free-standing buildings constructed in the world, including on each of the continents and within each country.

"Building" is defined as any human-made structure used or interface for supporting or sheltering any use or continuous occupancy. In order to qualify for this list a structure must:

be a recognisable building;

incorporate features of building work from the claimed date to at least 1.5 metres (4.9 ft) in height;

be largely complete or include building work to this height for most of its perimeter.

contains an enclosed area with at least one entry point.This consciously excludes ruins of limited height and statues. The list also excludes:

dolmens—a type of single-chamber megalithic tomb, usually consisting of three or more upright stones supporting a large flat horizontal capstone. Dolmens were typically covered with earth or smaller stones to form a tumulus (which are included in the list). In many instances, that covering has weathered away, leaving only the stone "skeleton" of the burial mound intact. Neolithic dolmens are extremely numerous, with over 1,000 reported from Mecklenburg-Vorpommern in Germany alone.

cairns which are simply large piles of loose stones (as opposed to chambered cairns.)Dates for many of the oldest structures have been arrived at by radiocarbon dating and should be considered approximate.

Maeshowe

Maeshowe (or Maes Howe; Old Norse: Orkhaugr) is a Neolithic chambered cairn and passage grave situated on Mainland Orkney, Scotland. It was probably built around 2800 BC. In the archaeology of Scotland, it gives its name to the Maeshowe type of chambered cairn, which is limited to Orkney. Maeshowe is a significant example of Neolithic craftsmanship and is, in the words of the archaeologist Stuart Piggott, "a superlative monument that by its originality of execution is lifted out of its class into a unique position." The monuments around Maeshowe, including Skara Brae, were designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1999.

Stenseby

Stenseby is a small settlement near St Bodil's Church in the southeast of the Danish island of Bornholm. For a time, an active community grew up around Bodilsker Station on the Rønne–Nexø railway which operated from 1900 to 1968. The area is also known for its passage grave discovered in the 1880s.

Townleyhall passage grave

Townleyhall passage grave is a chamber tomb located around 2 km north of Dowth tomb. It is part of the megalithic complex of Brú na Bóinne in County Louth, Ireland.

It is located outside the World Heritage Site core area but (just) inside the buffer zone.

The site was originally a Neolithic settlement but was abandoned by its occupants, perhaps because it was a temporary site serving the construction project or due to the death of a senior member, and turned into a passage grave. Unlike its more famous neighbours in the Boyne valley, the tomb consists of a single chamber that merges with the entrance passage making it an undifferentiated passage grave.

Townleyhall was excavated by George Eogan in 1962, work which found Carrowkeel ware pottery providing the first indication that Ireland's passage graves were of Neolithic date. Following this many of the other sites in the area were dug, although the methods used at the time would be considered crude by today's standards .

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