On the Rocks

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Many things can inspire and influence your mini adventures. I became interested in megalithic stones after reading the first Asterix comic book, in which Obelix spends most of his time sculpting and carrying menhirs.  Megalithic stones are large prehistoric stones that have been used to create a structure or to create a single standing stone. Obelix is a menhir sculptor, so it’s not quite like the megalithic stones, but the shapes are similar- and he was a great way to introduce me to ancient culture.

I am not sure what attracts me to the stones nowadays, but my interest in them started at an early age.  When I was (very) young, my family used to go to a beach with a huge stone cave on one of the hills.  My cousins, brothers, and sisters used to go there all the time. I wondered if people ever lived there. I loved the opening to the cave, the texture, and the echo that our voices made. Looking back, it seems natural that I became fascinated with Asterix, rock caves and archeological stones.

We don’t really know why these megalithic stones existed. There are theories that they were for burial purposes. These are called dolmens. They are a few standing stones covered by a horizontal one. Some burial dolmens have a large opening on one side and a tiny hole on the opposite side. I was told that the small opening was the passage for the spirit to leave to the other world.










I created a mini adventure to discover more about megalithic stones. My niece and I had a private walk with the Portuguese archeologist, Manuel Calado when we were at the São Lourenço do Barrocal. He told us that we really don’t know the details of why these stones exist and how they were used because there is no written documentation. Calado showed us how the structures could have been made and we discussed the astronomy, seasonal and other aspects of the stones. It was a lovely walk and I could have spent a lot more time listening to him.

Some people claim that the circles of stones and single standing stones are sacred spaces. I have read and heard of them being portals to another world. While I love the idea, sadly, I was never transported anywhere.

 The stone-cold mystery of Stonehenge



Stonehenge is protected by a simple cord so we could not walk inside the structure nor get too close to them. People walked slowly, and it became a challenge when someone wanted to take a selfie or a group shot because it meant that we all had to stop and wait.  It was a surreal experience. There were too many people and I circled it three times to study little details. At some point the massive amount of people became part of the experience.

Almendres Cromlech



Standing in the municipality of Evora, Portugal, is Almendres Cromlech. Featuring 95 standing stones, this is the largest group of megalithic stones in the Iberia Peninsula. It’s a “must” visit. And go quickly!

The stones are 4-6 feet tall, roundish shapes and are spread out randomly – not creating a circle or another geometrical shape. I loved being able to walk among them freely. I checked every single stone. It was a such pleasure to be up close and personal. A very different experience from the Stonehenge. I hope that they don’t close this off because part of the beauty of this visit was to be able to walk in between the stones and enjoy them. Some had faint designs on them. A real treasure.

The Almendres Menhir



One standing stone, the Almendres Menhir, is very near the Almendres Cromlech.  When I arrived I saw a group chanting and swinging pendulums while they circled the menhir. This was the first time that I saw people reacting to a site in a more spiritual or ritualistic manner. It was interesting to see.




I loved this stone. I understand that these stones should be left untouched but I couldn’t help but feel totally charmed by this scene. It was just outside someone’s cattle farm and I could hear the animals. Montemor-o-Novo is a burial stone with a tiny house built onto it.  I don’t know why someone built that tiny house onto the dolmen.

The house is closed to visitors, but  there is a phone number on a sign to call if you want to see inside. I was disappointed no one answered it.

Castelo de Vide



Castelo de Vide has a menhirs and dolmen stones throughout outskirts of city. I could only visit one of them because the others were in a fenced pasture full of angry bulls. I know that they were angry because there was a sign that warned: Beware of angry bulls. I thought that was a funny sign but it did it’s trick. I stayed away from the stones there.  The burial stones that were available to me had friendly roaming horses, instead.











Barbacena is near Elvas, where I lived for a few years.  It’s quite an adventure to get to it during the winter rainy season. The road has huge potholes that fills with water, and you can’t tell how deep they are holes are. I made two attempts on separate days and decided to  wait for summer. My third attempt was on a sunny day and I managed to avoid all the holes successfully. I crossed a beautiful old Roman bridge and parked nearby. I saw sheep, olive trees and cattle roaming freely on my way to the burial site. I loved this dolmen so much and visited it several times.

Create your own mini adventure based on your interests or fascinations. When I set out, just trying to get to the stones is a fun adventure.  I always wonder what I’m doing when the roads get difficult or when I get lost but when I arrive I love it.  The megalithic stones are magical, and the journey is as memorable for me as the destination.


Travel with a Purpose by Marguerite

Manuel Calado, archeologist

Leave no stone unturned: 

Marguerite Beaty, Blogger, Photographer & Artist

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