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 Location: Fiais, Nr Carregal do Sal, Bierras.  Grid Reference: 40.45˚ N, 7.95˚ W.


Click here to enlarge image      The Orca Complex: (Orca Complex).

The elevated granite bedrock of the Fiais region near Carregal do Sal, offered the builders of the 'Orca' dolmens both a ready source of building material, and a 360˚ view of the country extending several miles in all directions, whilst remaining in close proximity to the Mondego river.

The several dolmens and passage-mounds in this area have been preserved and combine together to form the 'Curcuito Pre-historico Fiais', a signposted journey through the forest tracks of Fiais. Apart from the beautiful Orca dolmen, this circuit offers examples of rock-art (arte-rupestre), several other smaller dolmens, and various other traces from Neolithic life, all of which add to the feel of the site.

(Click here for map of site)



   The Orca Complex:

The Orca Dolmen (Lapa da Orca) - (Passage-mound).

The largest and most complete of all the Neolithic remains in area, the Orca dolmen is a magnificent example of a Portuguese passage-mound and has some interesting examples of prehistoric cut-marks showing on at least two of the stones (see below).

It is possibly because it is the dominant structure of the group that this passage-mound has remained in such good condition.

The stone at the end of the chamber shows signs of having been worked.  The same carving can be seen on a stone at the nearby Orca da Palheira. The holes in the surrounding stones suggest a door mechanism which may be a later addition.



Note: From the middle photo, it looks as though the 'door' was once forced inwards.


Exposure of the top of the passage-way lintels has revealed that a couple of the stones still have their original cut-marks in them. Other stones in the area have the same feature. This method of cutting stone was common throughout the prehistoric world as the following pictures demonstrate.



Note: this stone has been re-used recently for the entrance plaque for Orca da Lapa.

Other examples from the same area

Orca da Lapa (left), Orca do Santo (right)


Orca do Outeiro do Rato:

Another passage-mound, only a lot smaller and mostly destroyed, This structure is dated at around 3,500 BC. It is orientated towards a nearby hill and the passageway is so small that by the look of it one would have had to crawl along it to get in originally.




Orca do Santo:

This completely demolished passage-mound has apparently little to offer. It has been stripped of almost all its original stones and small eucalyptus trees are growing aggressively through the ground in and around the site.

However, just across the way, hidden in the long grass are the following two stones. They appear aligned to each other, but not to the mound. The stone with the cut-marks in it has been balanced deliberately suggesting that this is a alignment of some sort.


orca do santo (ancient-wisdom.com)

One face of the cut-stone appears to have been 'worked' and has possible engravings on it.



The 'Quarry':

 Within sight of the Orca do Santo is this quarry face where it is still possible to see  prehistoric cut-marks in the rocks.

The same quarry marks can be seen at the 'quarry' as seen on megaliths around the complex.

(Other examples of prehistoric quarry-marks)



Orca 1 do Ameal:

This small structure (Orca 1) dated at around 4,000 BC is peculiar in that it has evidence of a mound surrounding it, yet it has no passage. The opening faces away from a spectacular view.


Orca 2 do Ameal:

Only a hundred yards away is this greatly restored dolmen (also dated at around 4,000 BC). Again showing evidence of a mound, again facing away from the vista, and again in a different style to other structures in the area.




Prehistoric rock-shelter:

Not much to look at perhaps but this tiny, paved shelter would have provided invaluable shelter from the elements.




Rock carvings (Arte Rupestre do Ameal).

This is one of two rocks that are almost completely covered with abstract shapes and carvings. Their meaning and age are speculative.




Orca da Palheira:

This heavily 'restored' dolmen is almost invisible from most angles having had a 60's nightmare built around it (and with parts of it).  It is dated to around 3,500 BC and again, is completely different in design to all the other structures in the area.

The same rock-cut 'door' can be seen on a stone at this site too. The stone has been re-used by the look of it... as part of a modern door-frame (Below, left). Other stones in the structure also appear to have been re-used from the original dolmen (Below, right).


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