|Author||Christopher Scarre and Luc Laporte|
Megalithic monuments are among the most striking remains of the Neolithic period of northern and western Europe and are scattered across landscapes from Pomerania to Portugal. Antiquarians and archaeologists early recognized the family resemblance of the different groups of tombs, attributing them to maritime peoples moving along the western seaways. More recent research sees them rather as the product of established early farming communities in their individual regions. Yet the diversity of the tombs, their chronologies and their varied cultural contexts complicates any straightforward understanding of their origins and distribution.
Megalithic Architectures provides new insight by focusing on the construction and design of European megalithic tombs – on the tomb as an architectural project. It shows how much is to be learned from detailed attention to the stages and the techniques through which tombs were built, modified and enlarged, and often intentionally dismantled or decommissioned. The large slabs that were employed, often unshaped, may suggest an opportunistic approach by the Neolithic builders, but this was clearly far from the case. Each building project was unique, and detailed study of individual sites exposes the way in which tombs were built as architectural, social and symbolic undertakings. Alongside the manner in which the materials were used, it reveals a store of knowledge that sometimes differed considerably from one structure to another, even between contemporary monuments within a single region.
The volume brings together regional specialists from Scandinavia, Germany, Britain, France, Belgium and Iberia to offer a series of uniquely authoritative studies. Results of recent fieldwork are fully incorporated and much of the material is published here for the first time in English. It provides an invaluable overview of the current state of research on European megalithic tombs.