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Definitions of menhirs in various dictionaries:
noun - a tall upright megalith
noun - a prehistoric monument
MENHIRS - A menhir (from Brittonic languages: maen or men, "stone" and hir or hîr, "long"), standing stone, orthostat, lith is a large man-made upright stone,...
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|Possible Dictionary Clues|
|Plural form of menhir.|
|a tall upright stone of a kind erected in prehistoric times in western Europe.|
|Menhirs might refer to|
A Menhir (from Brittonic languages: maen or men, "stone" and hir or hîr, "long"), standing stone, orthostat, lith is a large man-made upright stone, typically dating from the European middle Bronze Age. They can be found solely as monoliths, or as part of a group of similar stones. Menhirs's size can vary considerably, but they are generally uneven and squared, often tapering towards the top. |
* They are widely distributed across Europe, Africa and Asia, but most numerous in Western Europe; particularly in Ireland, Great Britain, Brittany and France, where there are about 50,000 examples, while there are 1,200 menhirs in northwest France alone. Standing stones are usually difficult to date, but pottery, or pottery shards, found underneath some in Atlantic Europe connects them with the Beaker people. They were constructed during many different periods across pre-history as part of the larger megalithic cultures in Europe and near areas.
* Some menhirs have been erected next to buildings that often have an early or current religious significance. One example is the South Zeal Menhir in Devon, which formed the basis for a 12th-century monastery built by lay monks. The monastery later became the Oxenham Arms hotel, at South Zeal, and the standing stone remains in place in the ancient snug bar at the hotel.
* Where menhirs appear in groups, often in a circular, oval, henge or horseshoe formation, they are sometimes called megalithic monuments. These are sites of ancient religious ceremonies, sometimes containing burial chambers. The exact function of menhirs has provoked more debate than practically any other issue in European pre-history. Over the centuries, they have variously been thought to have been used by Druids for human sacrifice, used as territorial markers, or elements of a complex ideological system, or functioned as early calendars. Until the nineteenth century, antiquarians did not have substantial knowledge of prehistory, and their only reference points were provided by classical literature. The developments of radiocarbon dating and dendrochronology have significantly advanced scientific knowledge in this area.
* The word menhir was adopted from French by 19th-century archaeologists. The introduction of the word into general archaeological usage has been attributed to the 18th-century French military officer Théophile Corret de la Tour d'Auvergne. It is a combination of two words of the Breton language: maen and hir. In modern Welsh, they are described as maen hir, or "long stone". In modern Breton, the word peulvan is used, with peul meaning "stake" or "post" and van which is a soft mutation of the word maen which means "stone".