In advance of plans to plant avocados there, archaeologists have discovered one of the largest Neolithic standing stone complexes in Europe close to the city of Huelva in southwest Spain. People call it the Spanish Stonehenge. The oldest upright stones in the complex, which are made up of hundreds of individual stones scattered over 1,500 acres (600 hectares) of the sides and top of a small hill, are thought to be as ancient as 7,500 years. These stones are known as “menhirs” in various regions of Europe.
Free-Standing Stones & More
Some of the larger stones are free-standing, while others have been arranged to create enclosures, stone rings, graves, mounds, and linear rows. A piece of the site’s jigsaw is the diversity of the structures. Although the La Torre-La Janera site was found in 2018, archaeologists have only just come to understand the entire scope of the Neolithic, or New Stone Age, complex.
It now appears that the Neolithic Stonehenge monuments’ purposes were as diverse as their creation. Territorial, ceremonial, astronomical, funerary, all of which together make up a mega-site of southern Iberia’s recent prehistory, he added. The megalithic sanctuary serves as a place of worship, remembrance, and honor for long-gone ancestors.
The proprietor, a farmer, intended to build an avocado plantation at the location, which is 50 miles northwest of Huelva and close to the Portuguese border. However, there were legends in the area that menhirs had previously stood on the hill, so it wasn’t entirely unexpected when a preliminary archaeological survey conducted in 2018 revealed that there were many standing stones there. An archaeological inquiry will be funded by the universities of Huelva and Alcalá until at least 2026 after a thorough examination in 2020 and 2021 indicated the significance of the site.
The Location of the Spanish ‘Stonehenge’
The complex was built by Neolithic people on a high hill with an excellent sight of the surrounding area, not far from the mouth of the Guadiana River and the Atlantic Ocean. Megaliths, derived from the Greek words for “great stone,” are standing stones and other Neolithic structures that may be found throughout Europe, from Sweden to the Mediterranean. In addition, some megalithic sites have been discovered in Spain, particularly in the vicinity of La Torre-La Janera.
Even bigger “megalithic” Stonehenge-like constructions may be discovered elsewhere, including at Carnac in France’s Brittany area, where there are more than 10,000 menhirs lined up in rows. Some of the most well-known megalithic monuments are found in Britain, like Stonehenge.
Because rock cannot be properly dated, it can be challenging to determine the exact dates of such megalithic buildings. The earliest standing stones at La Torre-La Janera, however, would be more ancient than most since indirect evidence from other materials buried at the same sites indicates that the majority of them belong to the Neolithic period from around 6,500 years ago.