AskDefine | Define cromlech

Dictionary Definition

cromlech n : a prehistoric megalith typically having two upright stones and a capstone [syn: dolmen]

User Contributed Dictionary



Welsh, from crom (feminine of crwm ‘bowed, arched’) + llech ‘(flat) stone’.


  • /'kɹɒm.lek/, /"krQm.lek/


  1. A dolmen or ancient underground tomb.
    • 1922, The scenes depicted on the emunctory field, showing our ancient duns and raths and cromlechs and grianauns and seats of learning and maledictive stones, are as wonderfully beautiful and the pigments as delicate as when the Sligo illuminators gave free rein to their artistic fantasy long long ago in the time of the Barmecides. — James Joyce, Ulysses


Extensive Definition

Cromlech is a Brythonic word (Breton/Welsh) used to describe prehistoric megalithic structures, where crom means "bent" and llech means "flagstone". The term is now virtually obsolete in archaeology, but remains in use as a colloquial term for two different types of megalithic monument.
In English it usually refers to dolmens, the remains of prehistoric stone chamber tombs. However, it is widely used in French to describe stone circles. Confusingly, some English-speaking archaeologists, such as Aubrey Burl, use this second meaning for cromlech in English too.
In addition, the term is occasionally used to describe more complex examples of megalithic architecture, such as the Almendres Cromlech in Portugal.

See also

cromlech in Bulgarian: Кромлех
cromlech in Czech: Kromlech
cromlech in Welsh: Cromlech
cromlech in German: Cromlech
cromlech in Spanish: Crómlech
cromlech in Basque: Harrespil
cromlech in French: Cromlech
cromlech in Italian: Cromlech
cromlech in Japanese: ストーンサークル
cromlech in Georgian: კრომლეხი
cromlech in Norwegian: Dommerring
cromlech in Polish: Kromlech
cromlech in Portuguese: Círculo de pedras
cromlech in Russian: Кромлех
cromlech in Slovak: Kromlech
cromlech in Swedish: Stensättning#Domarring
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