The Top 10 Megalithic Sites in Europe to Visit this Summer Solstice
Top 10 Megalithic sites in Europe
To inaugurate the publication of a groundbreaking new book on stone circles Megalith: Studies in Stone on 21 June and anticipating the spiritual Summer solstice this week, Robin Heath (contributing author and investigator of ancient monuments) and John Martineau (publisher and founder of the Megalithomania Conference), unveil their top 10 Megalithic sites in Europe.
- CARNAC, Brittany, France. With over 10,000 standing stones, many dating from around 3300BC, Carnac is the granddaddy of all megalithic sites, and also one of the earliest. If you’ve ever wondered what Obelisk was really up to, then go make a visit. Exploring the mile s of stone alignments, circles, eggs, rectangles, and monoliths, many still hiding in woodland, will keep you busy for days.
- MNAJDRA & HAGAR QIM, Malta. The neolithic temples on the island of Malta are among the oldest and most impressive megalithic buildings in the world. With the oldest parts dated to 3500BC, both Mnajdra and nearby Hagar Qim are compulsory destinations for any budding megalithomaniac.
- STONEHENGE, Wiltshire, UK. The most iconic megalithic temple of them all, Stonehenge is best visited on Midsummer’s Night, when it is open to the unwashed masses, some of whom may be lucky enough to watch the midsummer sun rise over the legendary Heel Stone (so named after Helios, the Greek sun god).
- GAVRINIS, Brittany, France. If you’re looking for ancient art, France is the place to go. With French cave paintings dating from 30,000BC, the extraordinary 4000BC tomb at Gavrinis with its huge whorls and zigzags must count as modern art. Don’t miss it, it will stay with you for ever. Accessed by boat from Lermor-Baden.
- AVEBURY, Wiltshire, UK. With Stonehenge such a sealed-off experience, Avebury, the largest stone circle in the world, is the destination of choice for many megalithomaniacs. Despite having a couple of roads running through it, and a pub and public toilets right its centre, it’s still an incredible place. Best visited on a clear frosty night with full moon.
- GOBEKLI TEPE, Anatolia, Turkey. Okay, so it’s not exactly in Europe (yet), but it would have been a crime to omit the oldest stone circles in the world. Only recently excavated, parts date to around 9000BC, more than twice as old as the Egyptian pyramids. About 20 stone circles have been discovered, with uprights of massive T-shaped pillars, many carved with animals.
- NEWGRANGE, Ireland. The passage tombs of the Boyne Valley are an extraordinary testimony to Neolithic culture and the greatest of them, Newgrange, is well worth a visit. Don’t miss the beautiful examples of neolithic art which adorn some of the large kerbstones surrounding the site.
- GGANTIJA & XAGHRA, Gozo, Malta. The Ggantija megalithic temple complex on the northwestern Maltese island of Gozo dates from 3600BC, making it the second oldest building on Earth, after Gobekli Tepe. The nearby stone circle and hypogeum of Xaghra is well worth a visit at the same time. You can almost sense the spirits.
- ANTEQUERA, Andalusia, Spain. The Dolmen of Menga and the adjacent Dolem de Viera are two of the largest and oldest megalithic structures in Europe, dated to 3800BC. Their huge stones and high ceilings mean no crawling or crouching, always a bonus. If you’ve never been, prepare to be awed.
- CALLANISH, Outer Hebrides. Almost nothing can prepare you for the extraordinary wild beauty of Callanish. It’s like a work of modern art. Take the ferry to the Isle of Harris from Skye and drive west to the stones. Don’t miss the other smaller stone circles in the area.
Megalith: Studies in Stone will be published on 21 June by Wooden Books. Featuring eight leading megalith authors and packed with new research revealing the remarkable complexity of stone circles and Neolithic art, the book can be bought on Amazon, in Waterstones and other book stores. Founder of Megalithic Tours, Robin Heath has written eleven books revealing the high culture to be found in the science surrounding ancient monuments.