(lit. huge stone) Prehistoric stone monument. Historians usually apply the term to the gigantic slabs that form stone circles, half circles and rows in n Europe
. These constructions date from the Neolithic
and early Bronze Age
. One of the best-known and complex examples is Stonehenge
2100–2000 bc). Megaliths existed long before the first stone buildings of Mycenean Crete. See also dolmen
Large block of undressed or partially dressed stone used singly or with other megaliths as prehistoric monuments in c.
1000 BC. A single standing-stone is a menhir
, sometimes arranged in regular rows (as at Carnac, Brittany). Megaliths are also found set in a circle, as at Stonehenge, Wilts. (c.
1800 BC), with lintels
forming a continuous band around the tops. Structures formed of uprights supporting a large flat slab were usually chamber-tombs, known as cromlechs or dolmens
Burl (1976, 1995);
G. Daniel (1972);
meg·a·lith / ˈmegəˌli[unvoicedth]/ •
n. Archaeol. a large stone that forms a prehistoric monument (e.g., a menhir) or part of one (e.g., a stone circle or chamber tomb).
a large stone that forms a prehistoric monument (e.g. a standing stone) or part of one (e.g. a stone circle or chambered tomb).