Threshold stone

Last updated

A threshold stone or sill stone (German : Schwellenstein) is a rectangularly dressed stone slab that forms part of the entrance of megalithic tombs of the Funnelbeaker culture, normally those with a passage. The red sandstone slab, up to 0.1 metres thick, was buried in the ground to a depth of 0.2 metres at the entrance to the chamber. Cultural sites of other types, such as Domus de Janas, also have a clear partition between the passage and the ante-chamber or main chamber.

German language West Germanic language

German is a West Germanic language that is mainly spoken in Central Europe. It is the most widely spoken and official or co-official language in Germany, Austria, Switzerland, South Tyrol (Italy), the German-speaking Community of Belgium, and Liechtenstein. It is also one of the three official languages of Luxembourg and a co-official language in the Opole Voivodeship in Poland. The languages which are most similar to German are the other members of the West Germanic language branch: Afrikaans, Dutch, English, the Frisian languages, Low German/Low Saxon, Luxembourgish, and Yiddish. There are also strong similarities in vocabulary with Danish, Norwegian and Swedish, although those belong to the North Germanic group. German is the second most widely spoken Germanic language, after English.

Megalithic entrance

A megalithic entrance is an architectonic feature that enables access to a megalithic tomb or structure. The design of the entrance has to seal the access to the cultic structure in such a way that it is possible to gain access to the interior again, even after a long time, in order to perform rituals. To that end, the practitioners of Nordic megalith architecture, the Wartberg culture and Horgen culture, used several variants, that are also found in other megalithic regions in identical or slightly modified form.

Funnelbeaker culture archaeological culture

The Funnel(-neck-)beaker culture, in short TRB or TBK was an archaeological culture in north-central Europe. It developed as a technological merger of local neolithic and mesolithic techno-complexes between the lower Elbe and middle Vistula rivers, introducing farming and husbandry as a major source of food to the pottery-using hunter-gatherers north of this line. It was preceded by Lengyel-influenced Stroke-ornamented ware culture (STK) groups/Late Lengyel and Baden-Boleráz in the southeast, Rössen groups in the southwest and the Ertebølle-Ellerbek groups in the north.


No. 7 = the threshold stone of a passage grave Megawal1.jpg
No. 7 = the threshold stone of a passage grave

Threshold stones are typical of dolmens, gallery graves and passage graves, etc. Whilst in most simple dolmens the blocking stone (Verschlussstein) of the entrance side was replaced by a threshold stone of varying height, the entrance to extended dolmens and great dolmens was narrowed axially or coaxially usually to about half the width of the chamber and the lower threshold stone marked the transition in the open doorway between the passage and the chamber. In simple dolmens with no passage and an entrance opening, the threshold reaches almost half the height of the chamber and protrudes 0.5 m above the hallway floor in Grave 9 in the northern part of the Everstorf Forest. Usually, however the upper edge of the threshold is not generally higher than 0.1 metres above the level of the hall floor in dolmens. The length of the threshold in polygonal dolmens and gallery and passage graves is also the width of the entrance which, in the Funnelbeaker culture, rarely exceeds 0.7 metres.

Dolmen Type of single-chamber megalithic tomb

A dolmen or cromlech is a type of single-chamber megalithic tomb, usually consisting of two or more vertical megaliths supporting a large flat horizontal capstone or "table". Most date from the early Neolithic and were sometimes covered with earth or smaller stones to form a tumulus. Small pad-stones may be wedged between the cap and supporting stones to achieve a level appearance. In many instances, the covering has weathered away, leaving only the stone "skeleton" of the mound intact.

Gallery grave Form of megalithic tomb

A gallery grave is a form of megalithic tomb built primarily during the Neolithic Age in Europe in which the main gallery of the tomb is entered without first passing through an antechamber or hallway. There are at least four major types of gallery grave, and they may be covered with an earthen mound or rock mound.

Passage grave type of megalithic tomb

A passage grave or passage tomb consists of a narrow passage made of large stones and one or multiple burial chambers covered in earth or stone. The building of passage tombs was normally carried out with megaliths and smaller stones; they usually date from the Neolithic Age. Those with more than one chamber may have multiple sub-chambers leading off from the main burial chamber. One common layout, the cruciform passage grave, is cross-shaped. Sometimes passage tombs are covered with a cairn, especially those dating from later times. Not all passage graves have been found to contain evidence of human remains. One such example is Maeshowe. The Passage Tomb tradition is believed to have originated in the French region of Brittany. It was introduced to other regions such as Ireland by colonists from Brittany.

As well as separating the sacral chamber from the profane passage, the threshold stone also serves to support a door slab or sealing slab. If the passageway was used, e.g. in connexion with secondary burials, for cultic purposes, it was given a covering of flagstones and a second, outer threshold stone.

Secondary burial Feature of certain prehistoric grave sites

The secondary burial is a feature of certain prehistoric grave sites of all types, identified since the New Stone Age, which is a frequent feature of megalithic tombs and tumuli. Secondary burials were also a mortuary custom among many Native American cultures.

See also


Ewald Schuldt, full name Ewald Adolf Ludwig Wilhelm Schuldt, was a German prehistorian who carried out significant research into the megaliths of northern Germany.

International Standard Book Number Unique numeric book identifier

The International Standard Book Number (ISBN) is a numeric commercial book identifier which is intended to be unique. Publishers purchase ISBNs from an affiliate of the International ISBN Agency.

Related Research Articles

Chamber tomb communal burial places, cut into rock or hillslopes or constructed of masonry, whose chamber may or may not have an entry passage, usually covered by a mound

A chamber tomb is a tomb for burial used in many different cultures. In the case of individual burials, the chamber is thought to signify a higher status for the interree than a simple grave. Built from rock or sometimes wood, the chambers could also serve as places for storage of the dead from one family or social group and were often used over long periods for multiple burials.

Giants grave Sardinian megalithic gallery grave by the Nuragic civilization

Giants' tomb is the name given by local people and archaeologists to a type of Sardinian megalithic gallery grave built during the Bronze Age by the Nuragic civilization. They were collective tombs and can be found throughout Sardinia, with 800 being discovered there.

Sieben Steinhäuser group of five dolmens on the Lüneburg Heath, Germany

The Sieben Steinhäuser is a group of five dolmens on the Lüneburg Heath in the NATO training area of Bergen-Hohne, in the state of Lower Saxony in northern Germany. The stones are considered to be part of the funnelbeaker culture. The gravesite was granted protected cultural monument status in 1923.

Tregiffian Burial Chamber

The Tregiffian Burial Chamber is a Neolithic or early Bronze age chambered tomb. It is near Lamorna in west Cornwall, United Kingdom. It is a rare form of a passage grave, known as an Entrance grave. It has an entrance passage, lined with stone slabs, which leads into a central chamber. This type of tomb is also found in the neighbouring Isles of Scilly.

Denghoog ancient monument

Denghoog is a Neolithic passage grave dating from around 3000 BC on the northern edge of Wenningstedt-Braderup on the German island of Sylt. The name Denghoog derives from the Söl'ring Deng (Thing) and Hoog (Hill).

This article describes several characteristic architectural elements typical of European megalithic structures.

Züschen (megalithic tomb) dolmen

The Züschen tomb is a prehistoric burial monument, located between Lohne and Züschen, near Fritzlar, Hesse, Germany. Classified as a gallery grave or a Hessian-Westphalian stone cist, it is one of the most important megalithic monuments in Central Europe. Dating to the late 4th millennium BC, it belongs to the Late Neolithic Wartberg culture. The presence of incised carvings, comparable to prehistoric rock art elsewhere in Europe, is a striking feature of Wartberg culture tombs, known so far only from Züschen and from tomb I at Warburg.

Altendorf (megalithic tomb)

The Altendorf tomb was an important megalithic tomb at Altenburg near Naumburg, northern Hesse, Germany. It was a gallery grave belonging to the Late Neolithic Wartberg culture. The Altenburg tomb is of special significance in Central European prehistory because of the large number of individuals it contained.

Megaliths in Mecklenburg-Vorpommern

In the area of present-day Mecklenburg-Vorpommern, Germany, up to 5,000 megalith tombs were erected as burial sites by people of the Neolithic Funnelbeaker (TRB) culture. More than 1,000 of them are preserved today and protected by law. Though varying in style and age, megalith structures are common in Western Europe, with those in Mecklenburg-Vorpommern belonging to the youngest and easternmost—further east, in the modern West Pomeranian Voivodeship of Poland, monuments erected by the TRB people did not include lithic structures, while they do in the south (Brandenburg), west and north (Denmark).

Goldbusch dolmen

The Goldbusch is a great dolmen, a type prehistoric grave site, that lies between Altensien and Moritzdorf on the German Baltic Sea island of Rügen. The megalithic tomb with Sprockhoff No. 508 was built between 3500 and 2800 B. C. in the New Stone Age as a megalithic site of the Funnelbeaker culture (TBK).

Great Dolmen of Dwasieden dolmen

The Great dolmen of Dwasieden, is a great dolmen in the borough of Sassnitz, on the Jasmund peninsula of Germany's largest island, Rügen. It was excavated in 1970 by Ewald Schuldt and is designated a Sprockhoff No. 472. The megalithic site of the Funnelbeaker culture (TBK) was constructed between 3500 and 2800 B. C.

Nordic megalith architecture dolmen

Nordic megalith architecture is an ancient architectural style found in Northern Europe, especially Scandinavia and North Germany, that involves large slabs of stone arranged to form a structure. It emerged in northern Europe, predominantly between 3500 and 2800 BC. It was primarily a product of the Funnelbeaker culture. Amongst its researchers, Ewald Schuldt in Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania excavated over 100 sites of different types - simple dolmens, extended dolmens – also called rectangular dolmens – passage graves, great dolmens, unchambered long barrows and stone cists - between 1964 and 1974. In addition, there are polygonal dolmens and types that emerged later, for example, the Grabkiste and Röse. This nomenclature, which specifically derives from the German, is not used in Scandinavia where these sites are categorised by other, more general, terms, as dolmens, passage graves and stone cists . Neolithic monuments are a feature of the culture and ideology of Neolithic communities. Their appearance and function serves as an indicator of their social development.

Simple dolmen type of dolmen

The simple dolmen or primeval dolmen is an early form of dolmen or megalithic tomb that occurs especially in Northern Europe. The term was defined by archaeologist, Ernst Sprockhoff, and utilised by Ewald Schuldt in publicising his excavation of 106 megalithic sites in the north German state of Mecklenburg-Vorpommern. The simple dolmen emerged in the early days of the development of megalithic monuments of the Funnelbeaker culture (TBK) and around 3,500 BC they appeared across almost the entire region covered by the stone cult structures of Nordic megalith architecture, but not in the Netherlands, in Lower Saxony west of the River Weser nor east of the River Oder and only once in Sweden.

Rectangular dolmen type of dolmen

A rectangular dolmen, extended dolmen or enlarged dolmen is a specific type of megalith, rectangular in shape, with upright sidestones and, usually, two capstones. The term rectangular dolmen was coined by Ekkehard Aner and is used especially in the German state of Schleswig-Holstein, where dolmens with this type of ground plan primarily occur. A more precise term, however, is extended dolmen, used by Ewald Schuldt and Ernst Sprockhoff, because these types of dolmen also occur with trapezoidal ground plans.

Harhoog dolmen on the island of Sylt in Schleswig-Holstein, Germany

The Harhoog is a dolmen, a rectangular megalithic tomb from the Funnelbeaker culture, located near Keitum on the island of Sylt in Schleswig-Holstein, Germany. Discovered in 1925, it was moved to the present site in 1954 when a new airport was developed.

Types of megalithic monuments in northeastern Germany

The various types of megalithic monuments in northeastern Germany were last compiled by Ewald Schuldt in the course of a project to excavate megalithic tombs from the Neolithic Era, which was conducted between 1964 and 1972 in the area of the northern districts of East Germany. His aim was to provide a "classification and naming of the objects present in this field of research". In doing so it utilised a classification by Ernst Sprockhoff, which in turn was based on an older Danish model.

Tholos de El Romeral dolmen in Antequera, Spain

Tholos de El Romeral, situated 2.5 kilometres (1.6 mi) north east of the town of Antequera (Andalusia), is one of the most important examples of Neolithic architecture in southern Europe. Tholos de El Romeral, also known as Cueva de Romeral and Dolmen de Romeral, is a megalithic burial site built circa 1800 BCE. It is one of three tombs in region, the others being Dolmen de Menga and Dolmen de Viera, both situated to the south west.