Portugal has many megalithic monuments but most of them are hard to find and lie hidden in the landscape. One site which has been carefully restored in recent years is at Alcalar in the south of the country. It lies about 60 km to the west of Faro airport on the N125, near the town of Portimao. The site and car park are clearly signposted.
Na het parkeren van de auto loop je in de richting van het hek. Eerst kom je langs een informatiecentrum en daarachter liggen twee prachtige megalieten: nummer 7 en nummer 9.
The group of megalithic monuments at Alcalar are part of a very large burial site dating from the era known as the Chalcolithic or Copper Age. In the period between 3000 and 2000 BC Alcalar developed into a settlement built on the top of a hillside. The 18 megaliths were erected at the highest point of the settlement, probably between 2000 and 1600 BC.
Tholos 7 is very impressive, with a diameter of 27 metres, and probably stood at the centre of the group. Excavations have brought many finds to light. The English name for a tholos is a Beehive Tomb, which accurately describes its shape as a dome made of stones above an underground entrance and arched burial chamber. The entrance faces the east.
Tholos 7 has been carefully rebuilt so that it is possible to look from above down into the chamber and along the length of the entrance gallery.
Tholos 9 is a little smaller than its neighbour but gives a better sense of an authentic atmosphere. The entrance gallery is particularly striking.
At one end of the site stands a 19th century lime kiln. This is not part of the ancient monuments but clearly shows that the stones in the area are limestone.
How to move a stone
Using ropes and wooden tree trunks you can see for yourself how it is possible to move a heavy stone to build a hunebed.
Like to know more?
There are many other archaeological sites in the area which can be visited. You can find out more from the staff at the information centre.
Text Nadine Lemmers
Translation Alun Harvey