The North European megaliths are among the most enduring structures built in prehistory; they are imbued with symbolic meanings which embody physical and conceptual ideas about the nature of the world inhabited by the first Northern farmers. The Megaliths of Northern Europe provides a much needed up-to-date synthesis of the material available on these monuments, incorporating the results of recent research in Holland, Germany, Denmark and Sweden. This research has brought to light new data on the construction of the megaliths and their role in the cultural landscape, and Magdalena Midgley offers a fascinating interpretation of the symbolism of megalithic tombs within the context of early farming communities. This wealth of new evidence suggests the Northern European megaliths were important foci in the wider north-west European context.
The construction of dolmens and passage graves, using huge glacial boulders, demanded both great communal effort and considerable skill. In addition to this technical expertise the master builders also made use of their esoteric knowledge of rituals. This was expressed in the use of exotic building materials and special architectural features, and in the placement of tombs within the natural and cultural landscapes, creating new metaphors and images.
Fully illustrated, this book will be of interest to both undergraduate and postgraduate students of European Prehistory, Archaeology and Prehistoric Anthropology, as well as architects who study ancient architecture and social anthropologists who study modern megaliths.
Table of Contents
1. Cultural and Ceremonial Background to the North European Megaliths 2. Megaliths in Thought and Space 3. To Build a Megalith 4. Body and Soul 5. Architects of Stone and Symbols 6. The Wider European Megalithic Context
Magdalena S.Midgley is a Senior Lecturer in Archaeology at the University of Edinburgh. Her teaching and research interests are mainly in the European Neolithic. They include early farming communities, monumentality, burial traditions and ceremonial sites. She is also interested in antiquarianism, megalithic representations in art, archaeological theory and the history of archaeology as a discipline.
‘…this is an excellent introduction to the subject, making non-specialists feel they can join in the debate.’ – Antiquity
'Phenomenological approaches makes the occasional appearance and the ethnographic perspectives are discussed in places, but the strength of this volume is its depth of detail. It provides a wealth of information culled from sometimes inaccessible primary and secondary publications, and draws proper attention to the numerous and impressive Megalithic tombs of northern Germany … Some may find Midgley’s treatment rather traditional, but her thorough knowledge of the German and Scandinavian material will make this book a primary reference in the English Archaeological literature for many years to come.’ – Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute