The word megalith means “large stone” (it comes from Ancient Greek megas=large, lithos=stone) and in a generic way represents a funeral construction made up of a mound of earth and/or stones (tumulus). It is hemispherical in shape and sometimes of monumental size.  On the inside there is normally a structure made of large stones (chamber). Another frequent feature is a ring of stones around the mound marking the beginning of the tomb elevation.


In order to build the funeral chamber various stones were placed vertically, embedded in the ground, and others were placed horizontally to cover the former. There are many different types – with a passageway at the entrance, completely closed off, polygonal, circular, cists etc. Sometimes the inside was decorated with illustrations and/or paintings. They are also known as dolmens (in Breton, a stone table) or in popular terms in Galicia and Portugal as arches.

Cámara cerrada
Cámara cerrada poligonal
Cámara con corredor
Cámara con corredor

On many other occasions however, the mound (which might be covered by stones) has no megalithic architecture on the inside.  Instead there are other smaller and simpler constructions – a ditch, small stones placed as steles, even wooden structures etc. This could affect the size of the monument, as there is a great variety in size – from 10 to 50 meters in diameter and from just a few cm to 3 or 4 meters high.

Some of these constructions, especially the large megalithic chambers, were collective graves, although there are also individual burial mounds (e.g. the ones known as cists).

Cista con morto
CIST with corpse
The form and dimensions of these graves shows us we are face to face with a structure that is clearly monumental and we can therefore speak of the first architecture in this sense in Galicia. Its three-dimensionality, volume, the materials, proportions, symmetry and location in the countryside is what enables us to affirm that this is a work of man that has the same architectural value as a cathedral or a modern skyscraper.

Megalithism in Galicia should be related to the monuments located on the European Atlantic front.  The first ones (small) were probably built soon after 4,300-4,000 BC.  At the same time as these first tumuli were under construction in the north west of the peninsula, enormous mounds were being built in Brittany in France and in the British Isles, which could hold various megalithic funeral chambers that are obviously collective.

Cista con morto
(Gran Bretaña)
Megalitismo en Europa
Megalithism in Europe

In these areas of Atlantic Europe there are other types of megalithic architecture. These are called menhirs – large stones standing upright in the ground (in Galicia they are called pedrafitas) either aligned or in circles (cromlech in the Breton language). Their exact function and meaning is unknown.
The most emblematic monuments of this type are the impressive rings of stones at Stonehenge (England) and the long lines of stones at Carnac in Brittany (France). The most similar thing in Galicia to these great upright stone structures is the well-known Lapa de Gargantáns (Moraña, Pontevedra), a monolith over 2 meters high, and the stone circles at A Mourela (As Pontes, A Coruña).

Cista con morto
Circulo de pedra de A Mourela
Megalitismo en Europa
Stonehenge (Gran Bretaña)

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

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Cista con morto Túmulo de West Kennet