Today we will continue the story started in the article "Stories with a Stone".
So, megaliths have long attracted attention, but by whom they were built and for what purpose, no one knew already at the turn of the New Era. Sources that have come down to us speak of some unknown people who once lived in these territories and left behind only these stones. Some legends and legends declare dwarfs to be the builders of megalithic structures, while others, on the contrary, claim that they were built by giants.
Many legends associate the construction of these mysterious structures with people who came from the sea. Indeed, when looking at the map, it is noticeable that the megaliths clearly gravitate towards the sea coasts. Moreover, the farther they are from the sea, the smaller their size. For example, here is a map of the dolmens of the Caucasian Black Sea region:
And the most ancient megalithic structures were found at the bottom of the Atlantic Ocean 40 km from the Bahamas and date back to the eighth millennium BC. Underwater megaliths have also been found near the Pacific Caroline Islands, at the bottom of the sea near the Japanese island of Yonaguni and at the bottom of Rock Lake in Wisconsin (USA).
Sometimes the versions about dwarfs and "people of the sea" merge. For example, in Adygea, the construction of incomprehensible stone structures is attributed to dwarfs who came out of the sea and rode hares.
The traditions of the various tribes of the Polynesian islands do not coincide. Some of them claim that the megaliths were left by dwarfs who descended from the three-tiered flying island of Kuaikhelani. Others talk about white, red-bearded gods emerging from the ocean. The Polynesians call megaliths the word "marae" - an altar.
Marae Manunu, Huahine Island
In the legends of the African Dogon tribe, it is said about some dwarf yebans, who are called the children of the Earth and the pale fox Yorutu.
Australian aborigines associate the megaliths with the mysterious sea people, whose people were depicted without mouths and with halos around their heads.
Celtic tribes of Western Europe attributed the construction of megaliths to fairies and elves. In the Irish sagas, for example, it is said that megalithic structures are a kind of portals connecting the world of people and the country of the “little people”. It is known that the megaliths in the same Ireland, as well as in Britain, were called "stones of the Druids". However, it is now considered proven that in their rituals the Druids used stones that had already existed for a long time, the origin of which, probably, they also did not know.
According to the medieval Dutch scientist Johan Picard, who drew on the earlier writings of Scandinavian authors, the megaliths were not built by dwarfs, but by giants who lived in northern Europe in prehistoric times. The inhabitants of Germany and the Mediterranean island of Sardinia are in solidarity with the Scandinavians. The Germans call such megaliths "graves of giants" (Hünengräber), the Sardinians - "graves of giants".
"Tomb of the Hun Giants", northern Germany
And this is the largest dolmen in Europe, which can be seen in Spain - near the Andalusian city of Antequera.
Also in Spain, on the island of Minorca (Balearic Islands), you can see the impressive tomb of Naveta des Tudons, the walls of which are made of limestone blocks. Its height is 4,55 meters, length - 14 meters, width - 6,4 meters.
According to scientists, it was built between 1640-1400. BC.
Dolmen de Lacara is very unusual and beautiful, which is located in the Spanish province of Extremadura, 25 km from the city of Merida:
It is from 3 to 4 thousand years old.
But the largest megalithic complex in Europe is located in Ireland - in the Boyne Valley. He is a thousand years older than Stonehenge.
The most famous building of this complex is the Newgrange Barrow (literally translated as "New Farm"). Sometimes it is also called the "Mound of fairies" and "the cave of the Sun" - its rays penetrate here on the day of the winter solstice.
It is this complex that is officially recognized by UNESCO as the largest and most important megalithic structure in Europe.
In the Senyuk region in the southeast of Armenia, about 3 km from the city of Sisian, you can see a whole group of megaliths called Zorats-Karer - "stone army". There are 223 megaliths in total, 80 of them have holes in the upper part, which is why they are called "singing stones" (of these 80 stones, only 37 continue to stand).
In India, some megaliths are considered the tombs of the Daityas (race of giants, asuras) and Rakshasas (demons). Other megaliths are associated with the gods of the Hindu pantheon. This one, for example, had the original Tamil name "Vaan Irai Kal" - "Stone of the Heavenly Deity."
However, it is now called Krishna's Butter Ball. The fact is that, according to the Hindu legends, this god in childhood stole butter from local peasants (it’s even interesting: is it really in such quantities?).
Krishna as a child
"Magical" properties of megaliths
In fact, magical properties and functions were often attributed to megalithic stones. In Brittany, for example, not far from the town of Essay, there is the famous dolmen alley, which the locals call "fairy stones". Here they believed that fairies can help in choosing a life partner. After the engagement, the young man and the girl on the night of the new moon walked around the old stones, counting them: the young man on the right, the girl on the left. If both had the same number of stones, their union should have been happy. The difference in one or two stones was also not considered critical, but those who, in their calculations, were mistaken by three or more stones, were strongly discouraged from playing a wedding. According to legend, these stones appeared here during the construction of the Roche-au-Fee dolmen by the fairies, which was mentioned in the article "Stories with a Stone".
They say that fairies wore stones in aprons, and then poured out the extra ones.
In Brittany, it was also believed that treasures lay under the ancient "standing stones" (menhirs), but they can be obtained only on one single day of the year. In Christian times, the night before Christmas began to be considered such a cherished time, when menhirs allegedly either rose above the ground, or, in general, left their place to the nearest source. To "rob" the menhir one had to possess a fair amount of dexterity and courage. Those of them that rose, strove to fall on the thief, who had gone to the source - they returned and chased him.
In Ancient Greece, magic stones were also subdivided into ophites ("Serpent stones", we will talk about them in the next article) and siderite ("Star Stones"), which were believed to have fallen from the sky. By the way, the famous Black Stone of the Kaaba in Mecca, judging by the available data, can be attributed specifically to the siderites.
Black stone of the Kaaba
Another, no less rare magical variety of megaliths, were the so-called moving stones. One of them, located on Mona Island, is mentioned by the medieval chronicler Giraldus Kambrenzis. They claim that this stone invariably returned to its place, despite all efforts to keep it in another. At the time of the conquest of Ireland by Henry II, Count Hugo Sestrenzis, wanting to personally verify the truth of this fact, ordered the famous stone to be tied to another, much larger one and both thrown into the sea. The next morning, the stone was found in its usual place. Later, this stone was laid in the wall of the local church, where it was seen by the scientist William Salisbury in 1554.
Moving stones include the famous Blue Stone near Lake Pleshcheyevo, which was described in the article Fulfillment of desires.
"Creeping stones" can be seen in the American National Park "Death Valley".
Scientists believe that they move thanks to the ice that forms around them during night frosts.
In Romania, however, there are trovant stones consisting of layered sandstone, which are capable of growing and even budding.
Geologists explain their growth by oxide or sulfate expansion of the internal structure of these stones under the influence of moisture. The fact is that magnesium and calcium hydroxides occupy twice the volume of the initial oxides, and the volume of hydrosulfoaluminate is 2,2 times greater than the volume of the initial components.
Another property of megaliths was considered their ability to heal the diseases of people who came to them. Recent archaeological research suggests that the main purpose of the famous Stonehenge (Stone Henge), the construction of which is associated with the name of Merlin, was to carry out healing rituals. Burials of people were found near this complex, the examination of the remains of which gives reason to suspect that they have serious diseases. Analysis of the teeth of the deceased found that many of them came from very remote areas, which indicates the great popularity of Stonehenge precisely as a "magic hospital". But modern researchers are skeptical about the famous version that Stonehenge is an ancient astronomical observatory. The fact is that this complex is not located on the top of a hill, but on its very gentle slope, which makes astronomical calculations very difficult.
The stones of Maine-en-Tol, located near the English city of Penzance, were also considered healing:
To cure children from tuberculosis and rickets, local residents have long carried them naked through the hole in the stone three times, and then dragged them three times across the grass from west to east. And the adults were looking for relief from back and joint pain here: they had to crawl through the hole nine times from east to west.
And this is the "Ring of Brodgar" (Orkney Islands), the third largest stone circle in Great Britain:
One of the megaliths of this "Ring" was the "Stone of Odin" with an opening through which a young man and a girl who loved each other shook hands. This ritual was a sign of the seriousness of their intentions and was called "Odin's oath". There was also a belief that a child who crawls through the hole of this stone will be guaranteed from paralysis for the rest of his life. Unfortunately, the Stone of Odin was destroyed by Christian priests. Of the 60 stones of this cromlech, only 27 have survived to this day.
Megaliths were also considered healing in Brittany, where at the turn of the XNUMXth and XNUMXth centuries, sick people came to them from all the surrounding villages.
There are “healing stones” on the territory of Russia as well. For example, Kon-Kamen near the village of Koz'e in the Efremovsky district of the Tula region.
Popular legend claims that some Horde people who fled from the Kulikov field turned into him. Local residents believed that men, sitting on it, can increase potency, and women - get rid of infertility. He also helped against cattle diseases: it is said that until the middle of the XNUMXth century, peasants plowed the land around this megalith for this purpose in the spring.
“Healing stones” can be seen even in Moscow (in Kolomenskoye). These are "Maiden's Stone" and "Stone-Goose", which were described in the article Fulfillment of desires.
Catholic priests called the megaliths revered by the people "the thrones of the devil." The hierarchs of the Orthodox Church did not welcome the worship of stones either, to put it mildly. Over the centuries, the Church has made tremendous efforts to end mass pilgrimages to these pagan sites and structures. In the end, the "Christianization" of the megaliths began, on many of which crosses were installed (or carved on them), and over some of them even churches were erected. IN stories Russia can also find examples of such an attitude towards ancient sanctuaries.
For example, the wooden chapel of Arseny Konevsky on the Kon-Kamen Island of Konevets - on Lake Ladoga.
This saint, who lived at the end of the XIV century, having learned about the sacrifices at the megalith, walked around it with an icon of the Virgin and sprinkled it with holy water. After that, according to legend, the demons came out of the stone in the form of a flock of crows and flew to the bay, which has since become known as "Devil's". Then, supposedly, snakes ceased to be found on this island. The stone chapel was built in 1895.
A chapel was also erected near the megalith on Mount Maura in the Vologda Oblast (the territory of the Russian North National Park).
This megalith is called the "footprint": on it, as it were, one can see the imprint of a human foot, which is attributed to the Monk Cyril (founder of the Kirillo-Belozersky Monastery). Locals believe that a wish will come true if you make it by stepping on it.
In the Vologda region, by the way, there are other unusual stones. So, in the interfluve of the Kema and Indomanka rivers, you can see two granite boulders, which have depressions (up to 15 cm) and were probably used as altars for pagan sacrifices.
Other megalithic structures of Russia
In Gornaya Shoria in the south of Kuzbass, the Surak-Kuylyum megalithic complex was discovered quite recently (in 2013). It is located in a hard-to-reach area at an altitude of 1015–1200 meters and has not yet been fully explored.
One of the megaliths of Mount Kuilum
Very interesting megaliths can be seen on Mount Vottovaara (Karelia). Here they are called "seids".
But there are especially many megalithic structures in the Caucasus - from the Black Sea coast to Adygea.
In the tract "Bogatyrskaya Polyana" (Adygea) near the village Novosvobodnaya, there are 360 dolmens, many of which, unfortunately, have been plundered and destroyed. Only two have survived well: No. 100 and No. 158.
Dolmens can also be seen in Crimea (72 dolmens, but most of them are poorly preserved), in Siberia and in the Kuban region.
About 60 dolmens were found in Abkhazia, 15 of them are located near the village of Verkhnyaya Eshera. One of the Escher dolmens stands at the Museum of Local Lore in Sukhumi (Abkhazia).
It was taken apart and brought from Esheri in 1961. During assembly, one of the walls was broken, and a gap is now visible between the roof and walls.
Unfortunately, many of the dolmens (both Russian and foreign) have been destroyed and lost forever.
In the next article, we will talk about "serpentine stones" and "stones of fate".