Side view of a menhir and a stone platformat the megalithic site of La Torre-La Janera near Huelva. Photo: Huelva Información

One of the largest megalithic sites in Europe has been uncovered in Southern Spain. In one of the most important prehistoric discoveries ever made in the area, archaeologists working at La Torre-La Janera, near the city of Huelva, have found a remarkable number of standing stones, dolmens, stone circles and burial mounds. More than 500 standing stones have been catalogued at the 7,000 year old site. Most of the menhirs are grouped together in 26 groups. Archaeologists have also found two cromlechs, both standing on hilltops with a clear view to the east for watching the sunrise during the summer and winter solstices and the spring and autumn equinoxes.

Work on the 600 hectare site began in 2018 after the land was surveyed during planning for a new avocado plantation. It was known that there were megalithic structures in the area but the extent of the area and scale of the finds were a surprise.

The findings of the excavation were published recently in the magazine Trabajos de Prehistoria,  revealing that 526 old standing stones had been found, most of which had fallen over.

The megalithic site (José Antonio Linares-Catela et al., Trabajos de Prehistoria, 2022)..

The findings of the excavation were published recently in the magazine Trabajos de Prehistoria,  revealing that 526 old standing stones had been found, most of which had fallen over.

 The site contains megalithic graves and stone circles dating from approximately 7,000 years ago. The majority of the stones seem to have been dug locally. The report concludes that this is a “unique” discovery on the Iberian peninsula.

One of the co-directors of the project, Primitiva Bueno Ramírez, said: “The discovery of this megalithic site presents three unusual aspects: the large number of examples of megalithic architecture, which is very rare, especially in the extreme southwest of Europe; the magnificent state of conservation of the finds; and the fact that dolmens or graves, alignments [parallel rows of stones] and cromlechs [stone circles] are found together in one place.”

“It is important to point out that we have not yet explored the whole site and it is very likely that there will be many more finds,” added Bueno Ramírez.

José Antonio Linares, one of the other co-directors, described the find as “the largest and most diverse collection of grouped standing stones on the Iberian peninsula”.

The new site is close to other known megalithic sites and not far from the River Guadiana, the border between Spain and Portugal. Parts of the region have now been granted special protection and the excavations are expected to continue until 2026.

The megalithic site (José Antonio Linares-Catela et al., Trabajos de Prehistoria, 2022).
Vorig artikelMensen en zwerfsteengebruik in het Mesolithicum – Deel 13
Volgend artikelSouth Korea – land with the most dolmens in the world
Harrie Wolters is algemeen directeur van het Hunebedcentrum.

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