Gallery grave

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Floor plans of gallery graves using the example of the Warburg necropolis
Scheme of a gallery using the example of Pierre-aux-Fées
Etteln gallery grave

The designation gallery grave for German megalithic systems of a certain type (derived from Italian: galleria "long colonnade") is a translation from French ( Allée couverte ) and was created due to the similarity of the German and Eastern French systems.

German gallery graves, like French ones, are usually deepened and made of orthostats and capstones or wooden ceilings. From the Paris Basin to Belgium there are also non-megalithic structures with a comparable rectangular plan that can be attributed to the Seine-Oise-Marne culture (SOM culture).

Distribution in Germany

The enclosed gallery grave Züschen

The 30 or so German systems that occur from the Westphalian Bight to the Züschen area , southwest of Kassel , are also called "Hessian-Westphalian stone boxes ". The rare ten plants east of the West German Steinkisten area, in Lower Saxony or on the Lahn and Moselle , which almost connect to the distribution area in Western Europe, are in some cases very small ( Liebenburg , Niederzeuzheim , Schankweiler ). In the east they are called the Central German Chamber or Chamber Graves.

The funnel cup culture (TBK) can be assigned to the galleries north of the Haarstrang (mountains) and in northern Lower Saxony ( gallery grave of Sorsum ). The east of the Westphalian Bay (near Warburg) and south of the Haarstrang, however, are mostly part of the Wartberg culture .

The "Hessian-Westphalian stone boxes" are collective graves and are divided into two types.

  • Gallery graves of the Züschen type (4.5–24 m long). The Züschen-type systems (and some stone chamber graves) have an antenna-like vestibule with a length of one to three meters, like Warburg I. They have axial entrances in the form of soul holes .
  • Gallery graves of the Rimbeck type (12–35 m long), on average significantly longer than the Züschen type. Systems with lengths between 24 m and 35 m also have lateral entrances , insofar as they do not correspond to the type classification of the Nordic megalithic architecture , which reserves lateral entrances for passage graves . Such systems can be found in Atteln II, Beckum-Dalmer , Lippborg, Rimbeck, Warburg III.

In 2010 the 20 and 25 m long gallery graves of Schmerlecke were discovered and excavated in Erwitte- Schmerlecke .

Distribution of the Hessian-Westphalian megalithic: 1–2 Beckum I – II. 3 Lippborg, 4 Ostönnen. 5 Hiddingsen. 6–8 loach I – III. 9 Völlinghausen. 10 Uelde, 11 Brenken. 12 Wünnenberg. 13–14 Wewelsburg I – II. 15–16 Atteln I – II. 17–18 Henglarn I – II. 19 Etteln. 20–21 Kirchborchen I – II. 22 Paderborn-Dahl. 23 Neuhaus. 24 Paderborn-Neuenbeken, 25 Rimbeck. 26 Hohenwepel. 27 Borgentreich-Großeneder. 28-32 Warburg I-II, 33 Calden I. 34 Calden II, 35 Altendorf. 36–38 Züschen I, II, IV. 39 Lohne-Wehrengrund / Züschen III. 40 likes. 41 Gudensberg, 42 Lohra. 43 Ebsdorf. 44 Giessen-Kleinlinden. 45 Muschenheim, 46 Niederzeuzheim. 47 Oberzeuzheim. 48 Oberzeuzheim-Heidenhäuschen. 49 Niedertiefenbach. 50 Schadeck. 51 Mensfelden. 52 Dauborn.


The Allée couverte, ( German for  "covered corridor" ) is a long dolmen , particularly widespread in France , whose floor plan corresponds to that of a corridor, while the width and height are low. The German equivalent is called a gallery grave. The Allée couverte is generally separated by a wall into two parts of equal height but unequal length, the chamber ( French cella ) and the antechamber ( French antecella ). The access is almost always on the longitudinal axis. The side walls are made of orthostats ( German "supporting stones" ). Depending on the length, the allée couverte is covered horizontally by one or more cap stones. Allées couvertes can be divided into:  

  • The Allées d'Aquitaine (also called V-shaped dolmens ) represent the transition between the dolmens with a corridor and the classic galleries. The chamber has the shape of an overstretched trapezoid. At the same time, the height of the orthostats decreases towards the access. These galleries do not have an antechamber. The lengths range from about 6.0 m to 9.50 m with an average width of 1.0 m.
  • The Allées girondines (the name was suggested by Marc Devignes) are galleries not sunk into the ground, the width and height of which remain constant. They are generally characterized by lower ceiling heights (1.0 m to 1.5 m). Their length is between 8.0 m and 18.0 m ( Allée couverte von Roquefort ). Their orientations are very variable.

In Languedoc, some very long dolmens with a corridor over 15 meters long ( Dolmen Lo Morrel dos Fados , Saint-Eugène ) were previously classified as Allées couvertes . Jean Guilaine has shown that these are not real Allées couvertes because their architecture does not correspond to the generally accepted definition:

  • the antechamber is narrower than the chamber;
  • a single capstone covers the chamber
  • the tumulus is mostly round, while in Allées couvertes it is oval.

In the case of the Allées couvertes in the Aude and Roussillon , it is therefore appropriate to speak of dolmens with wide passages.

Seine-Oise-Marne culture

In the Seine-Oise-Marne culture in France and Belgium, gallery graves or Allées Couvertes / sepultures couvertes are designed very differently in the details, some were even carved into the rock. Alleys, the length of which varies between 10 m and 20 m, are also the majority here. The chamber is sometimes divided by threshold, side or perforated stones ( La Pierre Turquaise - Dep. Val d'Oise). The shorter galleries are a bit lower overall. Some have lateral chambers at the head end separated by side buttresses.

Main type

The simple Allée couverte always has a rectangular chamber, which is held by several side panels and covered by ceiling panels. The interior is divided by one or more partitions that do not go through from wall to wall or are provided with a soul hole. Every now and then a trilith is added in front of the entrance. There are varieties of the primary type.


The Irish wedge shaped gallery graves or wedge tombs are derived from the Breton Allées couvertes by some researchers. They are characterized by the fact that the chamber and entrance are not structurally separated and have the same width. However, there may be a threshold stone or an axial secondary chamber. These systems are all built above ground and are shorter than the continental systems.

See also


  • Alain Beyneix, Monuments mégalithiques en Aquitaine, Saint-Cyr-sur-Loire, Éditions Alan Sutton, 2009, 96 p., ISBN 978-2-84910-957-1
  • Klaus Günther, Martina Viets: The megalithic grave Henglarn I, City of Lichtenau, Paderborn district = The megalithic graves Henglarn I and Wewelsburg I in the Paderborn region . Aschendorff, Münster 1992, ISBN 3-402-05141-9 , ( Soil antiquities of Westphalia 28).
  • Klaus Günther: The collective tombs necropolis Warburg I - V . With contributions by Holger Löwen. von Zabern, Mainz am Rhein 1997, ISBN 3-8053-2451-0 , ( Soil antiquities of Westphalia 34).
  • Eleonore Pape: A Shared Ideology of Death? The Architectural Elements and the Uses of the Late Neolithic Gallery Graves of Western Germany and the Paris Basin (= University research on prehistoric archeology. Volume 342). 2 volumes. Habelt, Bonn 2019, ISBN 978-3-7749-4082-6 .
  • Gustav Perret: Cro-Magnon types from the Neolithic to today In: Zeitschrift für Morphologie und Anthropologie 30 1938 pp. 382–405
  • Waldtraut Schrickel: Western European elements in the Neolithic grave construction of Central Germany and the gallery graves of West Germany and their inventories . (Vol. 2: Catalog of the Central German graves with Western European elements and the gallery graves of Western Germany ). 2 volumes. Habelt, Bonn 1966.
  • Winrich Schwellnus: Wartberg group and Hessian megalithic. A contribution to the late Neolithic of the Hessian mountainous region . Self-published by the State Office for Monument Preservation Hessen, Wiesbaden 1979, ( materials on the prehistory and early history of Hessen 4), (also: Marburg, Univ., Diss.).
  • Martina Viets: The megalithic grave Espel I, Recke community, Steinfurt district. With an appendix of the finds from Megalithic Tomb II . Aschendorff, Münster 1993, ISBN 3-402-05148-6 , ( Soil antiquities of Westphalia 29).

Web links

Commons : Gallery tombs  - collection of images, videos and audio files

Individual evidence

  1. Reinhard Meier: The early Neolithic stone boxes or gallery graves in southern Lower Saxony. In: H. Schirnig (Ed.): Großsteingräber in Niedersachsen 1979 . Pp. 91-110 ISBN 3-7848-1224-4 p. 91
  2. Submerged systems largely bring with them those stabilizing elements that are preserved above-ground systems by stone packings and the like in a hill. You also do not need inward sloping bearing stones, but occasionally have them anyway for other reasons
  3. 5000 year old large stone graves in Erwitte-Schmerlecke
  4. The Dolmen angevin, is an allée couverte of the Loire type, with a (retracted) trilith portal as access