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 Location: Antequera, Spain.  Grid Reference: 37� 1' 28.51" N, 4� 32' 47.38" W.


      Cueva de Menga Complex: (Passage Mounds).

The Cueva de Menga is famous for being one of the largest dolmens in Europe, if not the world. Largest stones estimated at 180 Tons (4)

The tombs have been cleared out by tomb raiders long ago, and the few remains are now on display in the Museo Arqueol�gico (Archaeological Museum) in M�laga. The museum is located in the Alcazaba, the maurean residence.

 The oldest is said to have been built around 3,700 BC. (5)

The stone used comes from de la Cruz, about 1 mile from the site. (2) The monuments are unusual in that they were partially cut into hillsides and each is constructed differently.

(Map of Location)


These three Dolmen/passage mounds are often ignored in prehistoric European literature, however, their importance is obvious from the sheer size and scale of the stones used for the monuments, with the largest regularly estimated at around 180 Tons (4)

Recent research has shown that Menga's anomalous orientation can be explained by an area of specieal significance on the north face of La Pena, at the place known as Matacabras Cave, which has 'schematic-style' prehistoric paintings in it. (Ref: Site pamphlet)


Cueva de menga, Spain.

The view of the Cueva de Menga front left, the location of the Neolithic settlement centre right, and the ever-present Pena de los Namorados in the distance (As seen from the top of Cueva de Viera).


   Cueva de Menga:

Built on a natural mound, the main chamber is composed of five capstones supported by three squared pillars, cut into the stones that compose the floor. Anthropomorphic scenes are recorded on its walls. When the grave was opened and examined in the 19th century, archaeologists found the skeletons of several hundred people inside

Cueva da Menga, Spain.

From below, the passage mound appears to be a part of the natural mound..


Cueva da Menga, Antequerra, Spain.


The ever present 'head' lies directly in front of the Passage mound, and is also aligned with both Cueva de Menga and Cueva de Viera.

The 'anomalous' orientation of the passage mound, facing northeast (azimuth 45�), to the north of the summer solstice sunrise. In the context of the monument (and other contemporary monuments), appears to be explained by its alignment with the ever-present La Pena.


This text from 1854 is one of the earliest descriptions of the Cueva de Mengan site.

'About a quarter of a mile to the eastward of the town (Antequera), on the road to Archidona, are three conical hills, from sixty to eighty feet in height, remarkable for the regularity of their outline, and covered with olive trees. On ascending the one nearest the town, and close to its summit, you find yourself opposite the cave. It presents a perfect porch, symmetrical in shape, but composed of rough stones of gigantic magnitude... ...In length, the cave measures seventy-one feet, and lies due east and west; the entrance faces eastward and looks towards the other two similar hills; and beyond them gain, at almost the distance of a league, rises abruptly from the plain the Pena de los Enamorados, which from here, presents its most picturesque appearance.' (1)

'Signor Mitjana [in 1841], in searching for bones, weapons, or other remains, and perhaps, for other chambers deeper in the hill, caused a shaft to be sunk in the interior, between the third pillar and the extremity, but discovered nothing; and to give light to his workmen, broke out at the end a large hole, four or five feet square, which considerably impairs the effect and uniformity of the place'. (1)

Three pillars support the huge limestone conglomerate capstones, some of which are already noticeably cracked and broken.


The well-shaft inside the chamber (left), and 'anthropomorphic' engravings (right).

The well-shaft , which is 1.5m diameter and 19.5m deep, has water at the bottom. it was uncovered through recent archaeology.


The entrance to the monument faces the 'Pena de los Namorados' (Lovers Peak). It is reasonably clear that this peak was a primary consideration in the selection of location for the Cueva de Menga complex and this example of deliberate placement confirms the idea that the landscape itself was an important aspect of the Neolithic mind, as was the association between megaliths and 'simulacrum', a suggestion which infers that the rocks and earth were seen as living entities, which would have endowed the site with a special quality.

(More about Simulacrum) 



Article: (Antequera burial dolmen is 1,000 years older than previously thought)

Carbon dating carried out on material at the entrance of the Menga dolmen in Antequera, M�laga in June 2006 has made the burial monument 1,000 years older than previously thought.

The latest analysis dates the site at 3790 B.C. in Neolithic times and not dating from the Copper age as previously thought.

Now Granada University professor, Francisco Carri�n, has confirmed second analysis carried out by Swiss investigators which confirms the date with two samples at 3790 and 3730 B.C.

It places the Menga dolmen as unique among the 300 or so which are to be found in the Antequera region, and not only as it is the only one which does not face East but instead to the summer solstice in the North East.




   Cueva de Viera:

The Cueva monument is a passage mound consisting of a 22m long passage divided into two sections, at the end of which there is a small square chamber entered through a holed 'portal' stone. The stone interior is covered by a mound 55m in diameter and orientated along a 96� azimuth (a common theme in Iberian megaliths).

'On the same hill about 80 yards from the Cueva de Menga, almost identical in general plan but differing considerably in detailed construction and design. Consisting of a single chamber entered by a long gallery divided from it by a stone doorway at one end and by a similar portal from an outer passage of rough stones at the other end. Beyond the outer doorway in the form of a rectangular opening in a stone slab is the remains of a portal, and cup-markings on three of the uprights of the passage and outside the door'. (2)

'The Cuevas de Viera has a long orthostat-lined passage with porthole slabs and a small square chamber. A cemetery of rock-cut tombs of the Bronze-age imitating the tholos form is nearby''. (3)

As it was before restoration...


cueva de Viera, antequera, spain

And as it is now...


The original structure had at least two 'Holed stones' in it, one now broken.


In the case of Cueva de Viera, one holed stone was placed at the entrance of the small inner chamber, and another part-way along the corridor. Their purpose is speculative, but one has to pass through them to enter.

(More about Holed Stones)

The Passage was orientated towards the sun at the autumn equinox.



Cueva de Romeral: 'Tholos' / Passage mound.

'Two kilometres away in an isolated and neglected double-chambered tomb of cupola type, the Cueva de Romeral, the inner doorway from the main chamber is formed by four pillars and a lintel, with the tops of the inner pair of door jambs sloped downwards towards the chamber'. (2)

'The Cueva de Romeral has a magnificent corbel vault nearly 5-metres high, dry-stone 'Tholos', and a passage over 30 metres long'. (3)

The tumulus is orientated on an azimuth of 199 , south south-west, towards the highest elevation on the El Torcal mountains, known as Camorro de las Siete mesas.


Other Spanish Dolmens:

'Dolmen' de Soto - Andalucia. (Passage mound/Dolmen)

Contains engravings on several of the orthostats.

It was discovered by Don Armando de Soto in 1922. Is the more important prehistoric monument of the province of Huelva.

(More about Soto soon)



Gallery of Images:

Pena de los namorados, spain.


(Other Prehistoric Spanish Sites)





1). Dublin University Magazine. No CCLIII. Vol XLIII. 1854. George Drought Printers. (Link)
2). Edwin Oliver James. The Tree of Life. 1967. Brill Publ.
3). B. A. Kipfer. Encyclopedic Dictionary of Archaeology. 2000. Springer Publ.
4). M. A. Gallagher, A. Symington. Spain. 2004. Footprint Travel Guides.
5). http://www.freerepublic.com/focus/f-chat/2134445/posts


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