Huge ‘Stonehenge’ menhirs discovered in Spain

by Lorraine Williamson
menhirs - standing stones

PROVINCIA DE HUELVA – Archaeologists describe the find of 526 standing stones (menhirs) as ‘unique’. It could be one of the world’s largest megalithic concentrations found in the province of Huelva in Andalucia. 

The menhirs date from the era between the sixth and third millennium BC. Furthermore, they were found on the La Torre-La Janera farm in Huelva. The owner had to wait for the municipality to plant avocado trees because there were already suspicions of possible archaeological remains. Consequently, the result was very unpleasant for the farmer but spectacular from an archaeological point of view. 

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According to experts associated with the universities of Huelva and Alcalá de Henares, the construction of the huge complex started at the end of the sixth millennium BC and lasted almost 3,000 years. 

Menhirs

Moreover, the stone monuments were probably built to track the growing seasons and observe astronomical events. 

The site is located on the left bank of the Guadiana River, 15 kilometres from the coastline of the province of Huelva. When the stones were placed, however, they were located directly on the sea. At that time, the sea level was two metres higher. However, the retreat of the water resulted in the current location. 

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nederlandse orthopeed

Bueno-Ramírez, professor of prehistory at the University of Alcalá de Henares, confirms that “nowhere in Europe is known such a compact concentration of megalithic sites to date. Consequently, experts expect to obtain a lot of archaeological data there.

A group of Spanish archaeologists notes in the journal Cuadernos de Prehistoria that the site is “the most unique place discovered so far in the Iberian Peninsula. (…)” It concerns “monuments with different functions and technical traditions that coexist”. 

Ritual stones

In total, 526 menhirs (or ritual stones) have been excavated, standing or collapsed. Their shapes are varied between one and three and a half metres high. Furthermore, most menhirs are concentrated in 26 groupings. These each consist of one to six rows and in some cases can be as long as 250 metres. The stones were built on the tops of hills with a horizon to the east, from which the sunrise could be observed. 

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In addition to the standing stones, burial sites have also been discovered. The stone-encased cemeteries are of various lengths, ranging from six to 17 metres. Furthermore, 41 stone coffins have been documented that were each built to hold two or more bodies.

According to the authors of the article in Cuadernos de Prehistoria, the discovery of La Torre-La Janera provides new arguments for strengthening the interpretations of Atlantic megalithism “as one of the oldest human phenomena aimed at the transformation of territories” and “The site consequently broadens the horizon of knowledge of the megalithisms of Western Europe and the research potential of the Iberian Peninsula”. The site’s analysis began in 2021 and is likely to continue through 2027.

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