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 Location: Portalegre, North of Crato, Alentejo.  Grid Reference: 39° 14' 00'' N, 7° 40' 00'' W.

 

      Anta do Tapadão: (Passage Mound).

One of the most beautiful passage mounds in Portugal.

This 'Anta' is estimated at around 3,000 BC

 Another jewel in Portugal's megalithic crown.

 A must for all lovers of megaliths.         

(Click here for map of the site)

 

 

   Anta de Tapadão: ('Anta da aldeia da mata')

This seemingly insignificant 'Dolmen' appears like so many others from outside, until the point one enters it, when any illusion of it being a Dolmen is dispersed, as it becomes immediately obvious that only the top half of the stones are showing from outside and that the bottom half are actually buried within a mound of considerable size.

Note - Whether this was the original shape of the structure is unsure at present - watch this space.

The Anta do Tapadao is situated in a field with a 360° view that stretches to the horizon in almost every direction. It is accessible by passing through a closed gate and is to be found in a field (on private land), shared by herds of moody cows. It is believed to have been constructed around 3000 BC.

 

The passage:

The passage is composed of huge, smoothed granite stones, each roughly 2m long and has a slight curve at the outside end. It is approximately 10m long and only 1m high, and when covered over would have required anyone wanting to enter the chamber to crawl along its length. The floor of the passage is covered in rubble, possibly remnants of a pavement or debris from collapsed roof-stones.

 

 

The Chamber:

The chamber is composed of eight huge granite stones, capped-off with a stone flattened on the underside and rounded on top. The large size of the chamber (second only to Zambujeiro), leaves no doubt as to the original importance of this passage mound.

 

The stones are all roughly 4m high (over ground level), and the stone at the rear is the largest at around 4m high x 3m wide and 1/2 thick (4 x 3 x 1/2 = 6m³). There are no visible markings inside the chamber. One of the stones has been broken in half at ground-level, and lies on the ground outside, where it fell.

 

The large stone above the entrance has slipped on the right hand side, and can be seen to have been worked along its bottom edge so as to fit neatly over the last two stones of the passage (see below). From inside the chamber, it is possible to determine the reason for the movement, as the supporting stone on the right hand side can be seen to have broken.

 

 

 

The entrance stone was deliberately shaped to rest above the passage.

 

The Dragão de St. Miguel:

Directly north of the mound is a rock formation which, with a little imagination, looks like a Dragons  head. Whether or not this feature was one of the reasons why the Anta was located here is unknown, but it certainly contributes to the already magical atmosphere of the site.

 

 

Orientation:

The passage leads from the mound at roughly 15° south of true west, directing it towards the rising winter solstice sun or along the azimuth of the spring full moon (a feature shared by the other two Alentejo passage mounds, Zambujeiro and San Gens). The passage has a distinct curve in it reminiscent of the passage at Newgrange, where it is now recognised as a deliberate design, restricting the entry of sunlight into the chamber for just a few hours of the day on the Solstice. There are several prominent rocky outcrops several metres away in the field in front of the passage, but they appear to have no markings on them.

 

'The Watcher' of Tapadao:

At the other end of the Stone outcrop that forms the dragon, is the following stone feature. It faces the dolmen and has presumably watched over it since its construction. Perhaps another reason why the dolmen was sited at this location.

 

Note the similarity to a serpents head above the face.

 

 

Even today these rock-features lend their presence to the atmosphere of the site.

 

(Other 'faces in stones' - Simulacrum)

 

(Other Passage Mounds)

 

(List of Prehistoric Portuguese sites)

(Portugal Homepage)

 

 

 

References:

 

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