Polygonal dolmen

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The polygonal dolmen (German: Polygonaldolmen) is a visually very attractive megalithic architectural structure and is therefore often depicted as the archetypal dolmen.[1] It is encountered especially frequently in the north of the Danish island of Zealand, in the Swedish province of Bohuslän and on the Cimbrian Peninsula, for example, at Troldkirken in Jutland. In Schleswig-Holstein, there are 11 examples. In Lower Saxony, Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania and Saxony-Anhalt (Lüdelsen) they appear are only occasionally.

Diagram of a polygonal dolmen seen from above
Cava dei Servi dolmen. Example of polygonal dolmen in Sicily

Neolithic monuments are expressions of the culture and ideology of Neolithic communities. Their emergence and function are indicators of social development.[2]

Five to nine supporting stones, or orthostats, shape the ground plan of the polygonal chamber. A single, sometimes especially large capstone covers them. An externally built entrance passage, whilst obligatory, has often not survived. In Dithmarschen the rectangular and polygonal dolmens of Albersdorf are particularly important. The Brutkamp is one of the most impressive examples of this type. Typologically viewed, the chamber of Hemmelmark, Rendsburg-Eckernförde, stands out, with its unusual dimensions of 2.8 × 2.25 metres and the division of sub-chambers by vertical slabs. Polygonal dolmen occur more rarely within stone enclosures (Schülldorf) and more frequently in round barrows (e.g. Dannewerk, Eckernförde, Haßmoor and Süderende).

Originally it was thought (e.g. by Ekkehard Aner, Johannes Brondstedt) that this type of dolmen originated in the west, due to its approximately circular construction. These views were refuted by comprehensive research by Ewald Schuldt in Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania, which emphasized the autochthonous origin of different types.

See also


  1. This detailed classification of dolmens into subtypes is only common in Germany. In the Netherlands and Poland these types do not occur. In Denmark and Sweden a distinction is only made between dolmens (Dysse, Döse) and passage graves. In Denmark the type of mound is used to distinguish dolmens in the nomenclature (Runddysse and Langdysse)
  2. J. Müller In: Varia neolithica VI 2009 p. 15


  • Piccolo, Salvatore (2013). Ancient Stones: The Prehistoric Dolmens of Sicily. Thornham/UK: Brazen Head. ISBN 978-0-9565106-2-4.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  • Jutta Roß: Megalithgräber in Schleswig-Holstein. Untersuchungen zum Aufbau der Grabanlagen nach neueren Ausgrabungsbefunden. Kovač, Hamburg, 1992, ISBN 3-86064-046-1 (Zugleich: Hamburg, Univ., Magisterarbeit, 1987).
  • Ewald Schuldt: Die mecklenburgischen Megalithgräber. Untersuchungen zu ihrer Architektur und Funktion. Deutscher Verlag der Wissenschaften, Berlin, 1972 (Beiträge zur Ur- und Frühgeschichte der Bezirke Rostock, Schwerin und Neubrandenburg. 6, ISSN 0138-4279).
  • Jürgen E. Walkowitz: Das Megalithsyndrom. Europäische Kultplätze der Steinzeit. Beier & Beran, Langenweißbach, 2003, ISBN 3-930036-70-3 (Beiträge zur Ur- und Frühgeschichte Mitteleuropas. 36).