At the time of construction, around 3000 BCE, the Belas Knap long barrow tomb measured some 200 feet in length. One of a number of similar tombs in Gloucestershire, England, Belas Knap was used to house human remains over a long period
In the Fertile Crescent, as extensive agriculture developed, giving rise to cities and large populations, the scattered peoples of western Europe continued to live primarily as hunter-gatherers and fishermen until farming methods were developed by 5000 BCE, at which point they became farmers. Agricultural techniques and tools spread north and west from Anatolia, encouraging the raising of livestock (primarily pigs and cattle) and the planting of crops (primarily wheat and barley). Agricultural progress made its way through the Balkans and along the valleys of great rivers such as the Danube, Elbe, and Rhine to reach Europe.
Other development corridors ran up the Italian peninsula and into the Rhône Valley, while the southern and eastern coasts of the Iberian Peninsula were also brought under cultivation at various points. Western European metal goods as well as the raw materials required to manufacture them (tin and copper) followed similar routes, resulting in significant cultural exchange by the second millennium ad venue. The hundreds of megalithic structures of various designs that have been discovered in prehistoric Europe represent the earliest archaeological evidence of religious practise in the region. Megalith refers to a large stone, whereas "megalithic" refers to structures constructed entirely of large stones.
Even though their original purposes are unknown, many of these structures are considered to be tombs, while others appear to have served as astronomical calendars, among other things From the end of the first millennium CE onward, ancient lore suggests that some standing stones and stone circles (henges) were thought to possess supernatural powers of some sort. Many megalithic constructions are located near springs and wells, which have been referred to as holy or sacred by locals throughout the historical period. According to a twelfth-century legend, water splashed over Stonehenge, the great circle in southern England, was believed to heal wounds and restore health. It was believed by some mediaeval scholars that the magical power discovered at these structures aided ancient priests in the performance of their ritual duties such as casting spells, prophesying, and communing with natural and divine forces.
It is believed that some megalithic structures in Europe are as old as the Egyptian pyramids, which date back to the third millennium BCE. Although their exact ages are unknown, some megalithic structures are the oldest major structures in Europe. A large number of megalithic structures can be found along the coasts of western Europe. These islands stretch from the Strait of Gibraltar in the south to the far northernmost Scottish islands, as well as across the North Sea to the Scandinavian islands. Megalithic sites can be found in abundance in southwestern Spain, western France, and the Baltic Sea shoreline, among other places. They are common in Great Britain and Ireland, and can also be found on the Mediterranean islands of Corsica and Sardinia, across the Strait of Gibraltar in North Africa, and far to the east in Anatolia.
They are also common in the Mediterranean islands of Corsica and Sardinia. The actual purpose of megalithic structures, as well as the beliefs of those who built and used them, are still a matter of conjecture at this point. In many cases, chambers that appear to be tomb recesses are actually sun chambers that have been skillfully aligned with the sun's rays, which penetrate these depths at the solstices. Many of the standing stones appear to be lithic in nature, and barrows were constructed with individual chambers arranged beneath long mounds.
They are known as Steinkisten in Germany, where they are aligned with one another as well as with sites; court tombs in Ireland; and long barrows in the United Kingdom. By the second millennium, there were numerous large communal cemeteries throughout northern and central Europe, each containing urns containing cremated human remains. Burials of land features that are visible from a distance. The dolmen, which is composed of massive upright stones topped with flat capstones and is the most common megalithic structure in Europe, is the most common type of megalithic structure.
There were many stone-built tombs, known as barrows, in the ancient communities of the great plain, which stretches from the Rhine River eastward to the Vistula River in central Europe. Also known as a gallery, it contained valuables from as far away as the graves, and it was one of the most common mega-Mediterranean lands. It contained pottery, copper figures, and bronze artefacts, and it was one of the most common mega-Mediterranean lands.