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Megalithic Ireland and Salento

Did you know that Salento is the only place in the Italian peninsula that has something in common with Ireland? In Salento in fact you can find dolmen and menhir. But what are they?

A dolmen is a megalithic monument, probably a tomb, that usually consists of a large flat horizontal stone (like a wide table) positioned on three or more vertical stones (or columns of stones).

A menhir is another megalithic monument consisting of one long vertical stone, whose real function is not known. Both names derive from the Breton language (taol maen – stone table, and maen hir – long stone).

Dolmen and menhir belong to the Neolithic period (4000 to 3000 BC) and can be found throughout Europe starting from Ireland, Wales, Scotland, England, France, Spain, Portugal, Germany, Poland, the Netherlands, Bulgaria, Turkey and in the Mediterranean: in Malta and in Italy, precisely in Sardinia and in Salento. They are probably testimonies of the migrations of people of Celtic origin.

There are more menhir and less dolmen in our area, but most of them are not in a good condition and many have been destroyed.

According to Irish legends, dolmen and stone circles were guarded by fairies and other magical creatures. Many years ago, people in Salento believed that enormous treasures were hidden under menhir (and destroyed many because of this, but of course they found no treasure!!!).

The most striking difference between our megalithic monuments and the Irish, however, is that, for example, the Irish dolmen are much much bigger than ours!!!  Why don’t you have a look at the wonderful pictures of dolmen all over Europe in the link ” megalithic Europe”?


2 thoughts on “Megalithic Ireland and Salento

  1. There’s a menhir in my town, in an area that people call, because of that, “Munteiancu” (“Whitemountain”). It is the highest menhir in Italy, it’s as tall as me..:)

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