Menhir, French for “long stone” can also be translated as “standing stone”, “orthostat”, or “lith”, but can also be identified simply as a large, standing rock. What’s so interesting about that right?
While some can be found standing alone, many of the liths can actually be found as part of a group. Not to mention that these stones can be located all across Europe, Africa, and even Asia. Despite their broad range, however, the area in which these rocks are most common is Western Europe, specifically Ireland and Great Britain. Across this region there are about 50,000 megaliths.
But, when did these rocks get there? Who put them there, right? Even though they are usually difficult to date, there are instances in which archaeologists have dug up pottery that has been buried underneath these structures. From these artifacts, scientists have been able to deduce that these rock formations are, in fact, connected to the Beaker people from prehistoric Europe.
That being said, aside from that slight tip, practically nothing is known about why/how these menhirs were erected. Everything from their religious beliefs to social organization remains a mystery, even to those who are experts in the field.
Not to fear, the lack of knowledge revolving these standing rocks does not make them any less awe-inspiring. Or easy to replicate?
One of our favorite menhir sights is actually in Galicia, Spain. The menhir stones along its coast were actually erected by contemporary Galician artist, Manolo Paz, as an ode back to Celtic times. Paz’s work on the shores of Coruña, while being inspired by the menhirs scattered across continent to continent, take a twist of their own. Called the Family of Menhirs, Paz gathered 10 upright stones to overlook the Atlantic Ocean, and carved strategic holes through them to let visitors look through for themselves.
Now, why on Earth would he want us to look through a rock, specifically? Manolo Paz was said to have created this work in “meditative hope” and so that people could look through the stones and interpret their own meaning. Paz believed that this offered everyone the chance to reflect on their future while the stones evoked a sense of “parents standing with their children” – we would be supported in any decision we take.
Through the stones, the famous Tower of Hercules is visible, while others just give a view of the vast ocean, but every image is meant to be interpreted by the individual viewer. Whatever the view, its meaning alone, coupled with its meditative state is enough of a reason to visit.
Have you ever seen the Menhir Stones?