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Pentre Ifan Dolmen Tomb - Windows to the Universe

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These wonderfully balanced rocks mark a tomb in Wales.
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Photo courtesy Diego Meozzi/Stone Pages

Pentre Ifan Dolmen Tomb

The stone structures of England and France are very famous. But, there are also stone structures in Wales, Sweden, Germany, Portugal, Spain, and Russia. The most popular site in Wales is Pentre Ifan.

Pentre Ifan is a Dolmen structure. A Dolmen structure is a burial place made out of big stones and those stones are often balancing on top of one another to form an arch or a fort-like structure. Here you can see the one large rock balanced on three upright stones. All of the stones are local igneous rocks. The large stone on top weighs over 16 tons and is held eight feet off the ground!

Pentre Ifan can be found near the town of Fishguard in Wales. It is thought to be from around 3,500 B.C.

Many times, archeologists and archeoastronomers will look at the orientation of a structure to see if it is aligned towards the setting or rising of the Sun, Moon or certain star on a special day like a solstice. Pentre Ifan isn't aligned in any of these special ways.

Since this site is so old, archeologists haven't found many ancient artifacts. Human bones were not found here, but archeologists are sure that this served as a common burial ground for the people who built it.

Local legend has it that fairies are sometimes seen at Pentre Ifan. They are described as "little children in clothes like soldiers' clothes with red caps." The mystery of stone sites often breeds such stories as this.

Last modified September 19, 2000 by Jennifer Bergman.

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The Summer 2010 issue of The Earth Scientist, available in our online store, includes articles on rivers and snow, classroom planetariums, satellites and oceanography, hands-on astronomy, and global warming.

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