How they were built

Given that there are no archaeological remains of the devices used to build these gigantic structures, we can only imagine that they used rudimentary techniques to extract and transport the stones. By studying the techniques of traditional stonemasons, researchers believe the stone was extracted by levering rocks that had previously been broken with wooden wedges – when these were soaked in water and swelled up they made fissures in the rocky outcrop.  Another technique was to light fires along the rock’s fracture lines and then quickly cool it with water, creating an internal tension that made it easy to break the rock with heavy tools (hammers or something similar).
Esquema dunha mámoa

Esquema construtivo dunha mámoa

The flagstones would then be transported on some kind of device consisting of wooden rollers and ropes; once they reached the place where the monument was to be built the stones were placed in the corresponding foundation, lifted up with wooden bars and ropes maybe using the mound itself as a ramp. The first stone in place was called the “headstone” and from then on the stones were slightly inclined, leaning on each other.  On each side of each stone were the remains of the orthostats until the megalithic chamber was made. Finally the covering slab was put in place, which apart from closing the structure also had a practical function as a stabiliser for the construction. Then the whole structure would be covered with soil and stones to make the mound.

Furnishings and artistic representations

Cista con morto
Fragmento de muiño
mill Fragmento de muiño

When we think of a funeral structure, the first thing that comes to mind is the corpse. However, there are no human remains in these tombs in Galicia as the granite soils are very acid and over time they completely decompose bones. What we do have are objects that were placed next to the corpses.

When a mound is excavated it is quite normal to found objects such as arrowheads, necklace beads, plain and decorated pottery, polished hatchets, anthropomorphic idols, hand-mills etc, in other words a set of different pieces  that enable archaeologists to interpret the past.

In some cases the chamber stones are carved and/or painted with motifs that are difficult for us to interpret.  The most famous decorated megalithic monument in Galicia is the Dolmen at Dombate (Cabana, A Coruña), which has circular, snake-shaped and other geometric carvings, as well paintings of an extraordinary quality showing geometric zigzag, pointed, striped, triangular and reticular figures in red and black on a white/ochre background.

The technique used for the paintings was as follows.  First of all a light coloured compound was used to cover the walls of the megalithic chamber, especially sieved kaolin amalgamated with butter – in some areas this layer is quite thick. On this layer the designs were painted using colours that had been previously made with iron oxide and an agglutinating agent to fix the paint (red) and charcoal (black).


Cámara con gravados
Cámara con gravados
Cámara con gravados Cámara con gravados

All this data and the information derived from it enables us to understand these ancient societies a little better. The arrowheads, pottery and hatchets speak to us about what they did in their daily life, while their idols and the decorations in the megalithic structures should be linked to religious beliefs that we do not know.

The end of an age

Around 2,700 BC the large megalithic structures with a passage were gradually closed and a different style came in with a greater variety of typology for burial mounds.  Graves that had already been built were sometimes re-used. In general tombs became smaller and used for individual burials in the ground or with smaller stone structures. Towards 1,700 BC (at the start of another prehistorical period known as the Bronze Age) it seems that no more burial mounds were built – they were substituted by other forms of burial that did not leave such evident marks on the landscape.




Mounds Map

Chan do Labrador Mound.
Chan dos Touciños Mound 1.
Chan dos Touciños Mound 2.
Chan dos Touciños Mound 3.
Chan dos Touciños Mound 4.
Ferradouro Mound 1.
Ferradouro Mound 2.
Costa Freiría Mound 3.
Costa Freiría Mound 2.
Costa Freiría Mound 1.
Vixiador Mound.

Ferradouro I
Ferradouro II
Freiría I
Touciños IV
Freiría II
Freiría III
Toucioños I
Touciños II
Touciños III

In our city 37 burial mounds have been discovered, most of them on the small plains of the surrounding mountains. We could highlight the mounds of Candeán, A Madroa, Alto de San Cosme, Alto de San Colmado and Rebullón, and Cotogrande. Many of them have suffered intense alterations and in some cases total destruction while others have disappeared for a variety of reasons, mainly due to people’s ignorance of their historical and cultural value.

The greatest concentration of mounds is in the parish of Candeán, to the north east of the municipality, very close to Redondela behind the foothills which go up from the south west to the north east towards the Alto de Coto Ferreira. The minimum height is roughly 300 meters above sea level, reaching almost 440 meters on the peak of Mount Vixiador.



Poñemos á vosa disposición material divulgativo dirixido ao profesorado e ao alumnado co ánimo de facilitar a visita dos centros escolares á Área Arquelóxica e difundir información sobre o noso patrimonio e a necesidade da súa conservación polas xeracións vindeiras. O material foi creado polo equipo de investigadores que levaron a cabo a intervención na necrópole.

Tamén podedes consultar desde aquí diferentes publicacións e enlaces relacionados co patrimonio arqueolóxico.


boletin Vacaloura n 4
• Número 4 del boletín Vacaloura
Montes e Patrimonio Arqueolóxico
Octubre de 2006

Descargar PDF - 600 KB



Ídolo Lítico Fragmento de muiño Cámara con gravados