ANCIENT megaliths like Britain’s famous Stonehenge monument were actually invented by the French.
That’s according to a new study, which says the French used the huge stone structures as graves before the idea spread to other parts of Europe, including the UK.
Building practices spread as far as Sweden as ancient people sailed around the continent, researchers said.
Around 35,000 megaliths – ancient monuments built from large stones – have been found throughout Europe.
Many were built during the Neolithic and Copper ages and are concentrated in coastal areas.
Scientists at the University of Gothenburg in Sweden analysed more than 2,000 radiocarbon dates of ancient stone structures.
This is the Haväng megalithic grave, Sweden[/caption]
The earliest megalithic graves emerged in northwest France during a period of 200-300 years in the second half of the 5th millennium BC, they found.
But they also popped up in the Mediterranean and the Atlantic coast of the Iberian Peninsula at around the same time.
However, monuments constructed before this period were all built in northwest France.
What is Stonehenge?
What you need to know about Britain's most mysterious monument
- Stonehenge is a prehistoric monument in Wiltshire
- It’s a ring of standing stones that measure around 13 feet high and seven feet wide
- Each stone weighs roughly 25 tons
- Experts say that the monument was constructed between 3000 and 2000 BC
- In 1882, it was legally protected as a Scheduled Ancient Monument
- And in 1986, the site and surroundings became a UNESCO World Heritage Site
- Stonehenge itself is owned by the Crown and managed by English Heritage
- But the land around Stonehenge is owned by the National Trust
- Part of what makes Stonehenge so mysterious is that it was produced by a culture with no written records
- Scientists regularly debate over how and why Stonehenge was built, and what it was used for
- One theory suggests Stonehenge was a sacred burial site
- Another proposes that it was used for celestial and astronomical alignments
- And some think it was an ancient place of healing
- It used to be believed that it was created as a Druid temple
- But we now know that Stonehenge predated the Druids by around 2000 years
Thousands of megalithic graves were erected in France, the British Isles, and the Iberian Peninsula during the first half of the 4th millennium BC.
Many more were constructed in Scandinavia during the second half of the millennium.
The distribution of the graves suggests the concept was born in northwest France, but was later spread to other parts of Europe via sea trade routes.
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Much mystery still surrounds the megaliths of Europe.
Researchers think Stonehenge’s builders may have transported megaliths down a “stone highway” from Wales.
An expert claimed last April that the Stonehenge rocks were in place “millions of years before people arrived”.
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