Have researchers just discovered the remains of a Stonehenge-like complex in Switzerland? While performing excavations near Bern, experts came across a massive three-ton menhir, believed to have been used by a prehistoric culture some 5,000 years ago.
A menhir is the simplest form of megalithic monument.
It consists of a generally elongated stone, roughly or minimally carved, placed vertically with its bottom buried in the ground to prevent it from falling.
The term ‘menhir’ originated in France and was adopted by archaeologists in the 19th century.
The size of menhirs varies, from small rocks that are only distinguishable from other stones because they form part of alignments or cromlech, to some monoliths (Kerloas, Champ-Dolent, Grand Menhir Brisé) which have a height of more than 10 meters.
The exact ritual meanings that inspired the rise of the Neolithic menhirs are unknown.
It is only known that they were, like other similar monuments of the time, burial constructions.
Near them, researchers usually find tombs with the remains of the deceased, and sometimes ceramics. The great megalithic structures were part of necropolises and menhirs would have played the role of tombstones linked to the commemoration and worship of ancestors.
Certain menhirs could have been tributes to divinities or, in the case of the sculpted menhirs, representations of the same.
There is a great number of Menhir’s in Europe as a consequence of the historical phenomenon of Megalithism, but their geographical extension is practically universal: India, Syria, Caucasus, Crimea, Northern Black Sea Coast, Bulgaria, China, Japan, Mongolia, Russia, Polynesia, North Africa, Spain, Portugal, Italy, Sardinia, France, Great Britain, Southwest Sweden, Denmark, Holland, Belgium, Northern Germany, Australia (Aboriginal megaliths), Colombia, Argentina, Venezuela etc.
They do not exist in Greece.
The stone structure discovered in Switzerland is unique mostly because to date, only 15 Menhirs have been found by experts.
The massive oval-shaped stone, discovered during excavations of a Bronze Age settlement in the swill village of Breitnacher, south of Bern, weighs three tons, standing 2 meters tall and is 1.3 meters wide.
Researchers believe that the stone structure may have been transported in the distant past to its present location.
Due to its proximity to Bronze Age houses, experts believe the stone existed there before the settlement was built.
“To date, only around fifteen isolated menhirs have been located in Swicetzerland. These are usually simple blocks from one to four meters high. The best example of the canton of Bern is for the moment in Sutz-Lattrigen, on Lake Biel. The discovery of a menhir at Kehrsatz would, therefore, be an event, said a statement from the Canton of Bern Archaeology Department.
Experts will find out more about the stone after they perform detailed analysis.
“This discovery would be all the more interesting since, with the exception of a few isolated finds, very little is known about the Stone Age settlement around the city of Bern,” the statement said.