Travel Guides Crafted by Experienced Archaeologists & Historians

A Guide to the Megalithic Sites & Museums of Europe

A ‘megalith’ – a word first used in 1849 in reference to Stonehenge – is a large stone, and one that was used on its own or with others to create a feature of some kind. These structures, widely accepted to be funerary and ritual monuments, are found from Ireland and Portugal in the west to Ukraine and Turkey in the east, from Norway and Sweden in the North to Spain and Italy in the south. They range in date from the Neolithic to the Bronze Age. While megalithic traditions exist almost throughout the world, this guide focuses solely on the prehistoric traditions of  Europe. 

Megalithic Sites in Europe

Almendres Cromlech

This collection of around 100 standing stones of various shapes and sizes is the largest known group of standing menhirs on the Iberian peninsula, and one of the largest in all of Europe. When first recorded in the 1960s, most of the stones had fallen. The stones were originally erected sometime between 6,000 and 4,000 BC – during the Neolithic period. Archaeological excavations have not revealed evidence for any funerary function. Some of the stones have very feint carved geometric images on them.


About 8 km south of Flensburg is Arnkiel archaeological park, a two-hectare space with six funerary monuments. Including one large, 70 m long reconstructed ‘Hünenbett’, or ‘long bed’ burial chamber. The megalithic structures at Arnkiel-Park date to the Neolithic period between 4200 – 1700 BC. An onsite information centre provides extensive information in different languages about the archaeology of the site and the area.

Bryn Celli Ddu Burial Chamber

Bryn Celli Ddu is probably the most famous archaeological site on Anglesey. A Neolithic monument, it underwent several phases of development. Excavation suggests that it originated as an earthen henge containing several stone settings before people in the later part of the Neolithic period transformed it into a passage grave. In this form it represents an earthen tumulus containing a narrow stone-lined passage aligned with the summer solstice. The remains of several deceased people were then placed inside this chamber, perhaps indicating ancestor veneration.

Carnac Stone Alignments

The different series of stone alignments to the north of Carnac are made up of over 3,000 individual standing stones – they are the largest concentration of megaliths in the World. Thought to have been erected between 7,000 and 4,000 years ago, the lines of standing stones cover a distance of about four kilometres in total. Although now fenced off, guided tours of certain sections of the stones are available that enable visitors to walk among the stones. These guided tours are highly recommended.

Carreg Coetan Arthur Burial Chamber

Its name a reference to the legendary King Arthur, who plays an important role in traditional Welsh folklore, Carreg Coetan Arthur is part of a Neolithic burial chamber constructed around 3000 BC. Today it survives as a dolmen, although it is likely that the structure was inside a mound made of earth and perhaps also stone. Archaeologists excavated the site during the 1960s and 1970s, revealing cremated human bone as well as fragments of both Grooved Ware and Beaker Ware prehistoric pottery.

De Hondsrug UNESCO Global Geopark

Spread across parts of the provinces of Drenthe and Groningen, De Hondsrug is the only UNESCO-certified geopark in the Netherlands. A natural geographical feature formed by a glacial ridge of sand and boulder clay, it provided prehistoric peoples an area of safe passage through boggy terrain. Over 5000 years ago (Neolithic), the Funnelbeaker people erected a number series of megalithic tombs here. Next to the Geopark’s visitor centre is the Hunebed Centrum, and a number of the dolmens are close by.

Dolmen de Bagneux

Located in a southern suburb of Saumur, the Dolmen de Bagneux is thought to the biggest of its kind in France, and perhaps even Europe. This dolmen, a typical Neolithic portal tomb – the chamber would have been used within which to place bodies of the dead, and is made up of 15 very large stones. The collective weight of these megaliths is estimated at approximately 500 tons. There are historical records of excavations in 1775, but no burial remains were recovered. Not surprising given the structure had been used as a barn.

Dolmen de la Madeleine

An isolated dolmen in a private field on the outskirts of the town of Gennes, on the banks of the Loire River not that far from Saumur. There are a number of these megalithic sites in the area – but this one is one of the larger ones – measuring 14 metres in length and with an interior height of 2.7 metres. Like many of the more substantial dolmens it has been used by local farmers for centuries. This particular dolmen was used to house a large bread oven; the remains of which are still present in the chamber

Dyffryn Ardudwy Burial Chamber

The double burial chamber at Dyffryn Ardudwy dates from the Neolithic or New Stone Age period. The monument’s builders probably chose the location very deliberately, on a hillside that looks out into Cardigan Bay. Excavation has shown that the first, smaller dolmen was erected here and covered with a cairn of stones, after which a second, larger tomb was built and then encased in a cairn that enveloped its older neighbour. A cup-mark is apparent on one of the tombs, evidence for prehistoric rock art.

Gavrinis Passage Tomb

The stone cairn with its decorated passage tomb is not only one of the more spectacular Neolithic sites in the Morbihan area, it is also a great day out for the whole family. Today, because of the rise of sea levels since it was built, the cairn is now on a small island, and the only means of getting there is a short ferry ride from the nearby coastal fishing village of Lamor-Baden. Once on the privately owned island a guided tour enables access to the decorated passage tomb.

Museums About Megalithic Archaeology

Carnac Prehistory Museum

The Musée de Préhistoire de Carnac is housed in an old rectory with a collection of over 7,000 artefacts from many of the megalithic sites in the area – one of the richest museums for megalithic culture. A handful of display that deal with the various aspects of everyday life, but the museum has a greater focus on the development and significance of funerary architecture, from the early dolmens to the later, more complex passage tombs. A few galleries explore the Iron Age and Roman  periods.

Ditmarschen Stone Age Park

South of Albersdorf is a Stone Age open-air museum, in an area that is rich in prehistoric megalithic sites. In an area covering 40 hectares visitors can explore a Stone Age hunters’ camp and as well as a village belonging to the region’s earliest farmers. The onsite museum explores over 100,000 years of human history in Schleswig-Holstein. A must is the reconstructed burial mound, through which visitors can walk and learn about the burial practices of prehistoric people.

Ellert and Brammert Open-Air Museum

The Ellert and Brammert Open-Air Museum (Openluchtmuseum Ellert en Brammert) in Schoonoord is named after two giants who, according to legend, inhabited the Drenthe region. The open-air museum focusses on the built heritage of this area from prehistory to the 19th century; with both reconstructions and original, preserved buildings. Its exhibits include various houses, a schoolhouse, a church, a village prison, and reconstructions of a Neolithic dolmen and a Saxon farmhouse.

Hunebed Centre

At the Hunebed Centre (Hunebedcentrum) archaeological museum in Drenthe, visitors are transported back into prehistory. Located only a short distance from D27, the largest known dolmen (‘hunebed’) in the Netherlands, the Hunebed Centre focuses on the story of the Neolithic (New Stone Age) people who build these monuments. As well as an indooor museum displaying archaeological finds from the area, the Hunebed Centre includes a reconstructed Neolithic village. The museum is located inside the De Hondsrug UNESCO Global Geopark.

Maison des Mégaliths, Carnac

Besides serving as an information point and a ticket office for guided tours of the Carnac stone alignments, the Maison des Mégalithes also has a series of exhibitions outlining the history and understanding of the megalithic tradition in southern Brittany. The viewing platform on top of the building is a viewing platform that gives a better view of the alignments than you will get at the fence.