Non-megalithic Long Barrows, Tumuli, Langhügel

Non-megalithic Long Barrows, Tumuli, Langhügel

Long barrows are earthen tumuli and were erected in many regions of Northern Europe. The oldest can be found in Brittany, France. Further, they appear in Southern France, England, Scotland, Germany, South-Scandinavia and Poland.

Distribution of non-megalithic long mounds in Europe (after [1]).

Alternative names include combinations of Long, non-megalithic, un-chambered or earthen AND mound, grave or monument. E.g. un-chambered mount or earthen barrow, etc.

Grand Tumuli

The region of Carnac in Brittany is home of a number of Grand Tumuli. The now biggest surviving is the Tumulus St. Michel, 125 m long, 60 m wide and about 10 m high.

More tumuli were discovered in other areas of France. Recent attention got a group of monuments close to Passy in the Paris area of France. These monuments predate the monuments in UK and Northern Germany+ Scandinavia and were thought to be built around 4500 BC [2].

Staint-Michel grand tumuli in Carnac, France. The church was built in Christian times.

Long barrows of the UK

Earthen long barrows have a high density in the South of England, but are also found in the Eastern part of middle and North England, up to the East of Scotland. Typically the tumulus extends East-West with the East side used for complex ritual practices, including wooden burial structures. Also typical are ditches each side of the tumulus. In addition the tumulus might have been enclosed, like the Fussell’s Lodge with wooden posts.

Fussell’s Lodge long barrow in Wiltshire, UK (after Ashbee).

The non-megalithic long barrows are older than the megalithic tombs that succeeded them. An example is the chambered tomb Wayland’s Smithy in Oxfordshire which was build exactly on a non-megalithic long barrow.

The chambered Cotswold-Severn Wayland’s Smithy in Oxfordshire, UK (after Saville and Whittle) was build over a non-megalithic long barrow (in the middle).

Non-megalithic monuments of TRB

Like in the UK non-megalithic long barrows were erected in Northern Germany, Southern Scandinavia and Poland. These were built 3800 to 3400 BC and predate megalithic TRB structures like in the UK. Typically the are 40-50 m long and 5-10m wide with an East-West orientation.

In the North of Germany about 30 non-megalithic long barrow are known, a detailed account can be found in the work of Kossian [3] (see also [1]).

Many monuments were discovered only in recent years since they were not as obvious to recognize like their megalithic relatives. Moreover, Kossian [3] mentions the fact that only recently it was discovered in some of the German long barrows, that the megalithic chambers were updated or rebuild on older non-megalithic barrows. In [1] the author gives a summary of evidences of megalithic structures added to former non-megalithic long barrows (e.g. Lüdelsen 6). As these aspects were not considered in older excavation it is quite likely that there are many more unrecognized un-chambered long barrows.


The long barrows in Poland are typically taller an wide at the Eastern side and narrowing to a pointed end at the Western side.

Polish Earthen Long Barrow Wietrzychowice 5


[1] J. Müller, H. Dibbern, and F. Hage, “Non-megalithic mounds beneath megaliths: a new perspective on monumentality in north central europe.” 2014.
author = {Johannes Müller and Hauke Dibbern and Franziska Hage},
title = {Non-megalithic mounds beneath megaliths: A new perspective on monumentality in North Central Europe},
year = {2014},
editor = {Hinz, Martin and Mischka, Doris and Noble, Gordon and Olausson, Deborah},
publisher = {Verlag Dr. Rudolf Habelt},
url = {},
[2] [doi] P. Chambon and A. Thomas, “The first monumental cemeteries of western europe : the „passy type“ necropolis in the paris basin around 4500 bc,” Journal of neolithic archaeology, vol. 12, iss. 2, 2010.
author = {Chambon, Philippe and Thomas, Aline},
journal = {Journal of Neolithic Archaeology},
title = {The first monumental cemeteries of western Europe : the „Passy type“ necropolis in the Paris basin around 4500 BC},
year = {2010},
month = {Oct.},
number = {2},
volume = {12},
abstractnote = {In the Seine-Yonne basin at around 4500 B.C. numerous cemeteries appeared, including giant “enclosures” which as a funerary manifestation would have no later equivalent in Europe. These constructions, whether tumuli, palisade enclosures, or mixed systems, sometimes exceed 300 m in length but contain very few burials. Beyond the classic interpretation, which sees high investment in a few individuals as reflecting a hierarchical society, structural analysis of these cemeteries shows the repetition of an elementary module, associated with consistent attributes, evoking hunting and more broadly, the wild. An exercise of association and exclusion brings into play the morphology and arrangements of the monuments, the gender of the inhumed individuals and their attributes. In the male monuments, a central figure is thus distinguished, sometimes with original physical characteristics and accompanied by an enigmatic insignia: a pointed bone instrument with a wide base, trivially called an “Eiffel Tower”. This figure is surrounded by other individuals interpreted as hunters on the basis of the accompanying objects. Other individuals probably served as no  more than passive figurants, rather like foils. In any case, the monumental cemeteries of the 5th millennium correspond to the earliest human groups for which we can identify diverse and repetitive statuses.},
doi = {10.12766/jna.2010.37},
url = {},
[3] R. Kossian, Nichtmegalithische grabanlagen der trichterbecherkultur in deutschland und den niederlanden, Landesamt für denkmalpflege und archäologie sachsen-anhalt, landesmuseum für vorgeschichte, 2005.
author = {Rainer Kossian},
note = {UCL: INST ARCH DA Qto KOS},
owner = {ograu},
publisher = {Landesamt für Denkmalpflege und Archäologie Sachsen-Anhalt, Landesmuseum für Vorgeschichte},
series = {Veröffentlichungen des Landesamtes für Denkmalpflege und Archäologie Sachsen-Anhalt–Landesmuseum für Vorgeschichte ; Bd. 58},
timestamp = {2010.05.15},
title = {Nichtmegalithische Grabanlagen der Trichterbecherkultur in Deutschland und den Niederlanden},
year = {2005}