We use cookies to ensure that we give you the best experience on our website. By continuing to browse this repository, you give consent for essential cookies to be used. You can read more about our Privacy and Cookie Policy.

Durham Research Online
You are in:

Stones with character : animism, agency and megalithic monuments.

Scarre, Chris (2009) 'Stones with character : animism, agency and megalithic monuments.', in Materialitas: working stone, carving identity. Oxford: Oxbow Books, pp. 9-18.


Recent studies of megalithic monuments have shown how they incorporate blocks, sometimes taken from different locations, which link the monuments to features of their local landscapes. The slabs were often left unworked, or only minimally shaped, which would have helped preserved the visual resemblance of the stones to the outcrops or boulder fields from which they were derived. The careful selection of megalithic blocks suggests that they incorporated and materialised memories, powers and associations of place. The recycling of carved and shaped standing stones in the passage graves of Brittany illustrates another approach to the materiality of the slabs, one which draws upon anthropomorphic symbolism. Some later monuments too have carved motifs, and those motifs may imply they were thought to embody ‘human’ qualities. An ‘animistic’ or ‘anthropomorphic’ reading of these blocks may provide additional insights into the social practices and beliefs which lay behind the construction of megalithic monuments.

Item Type:Book chapter
Full text:(AM) Accepted Manuscript
Download PDF
Publisher Web site:
Date accepted:No date available
Date deposited:07 June 2012
Date of first online publication:2009
Date first made open access:No date available

Save or Share this output

Look up in GoogleScholar