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, one can also find megalithic sites in such places as Wales, Sweden, Germany, Portugal, Spain, Malta, Russia and the Netherlands. The most popular megalithic 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 delicately balanced on three more slender upright stones. All of the stones are local igneous rocks. The large capstone 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. Its name translates to Ivan's Village.

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 typical in orientation. It is aligned north-south. Archeologists and archeoastronomers haven't placed any special significance on this orientation.

Unfortunately, excavation hasn't produced many artifacts at all from this ancient time period. Human remains 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 and majesty of megalithic sites often breed such tales as this.

Last modified September 19, 2000 by Jennifer Bergman.

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