American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition
- n. See portal tomb.
Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia
- n. A structure consisting of one large unhewn stone restingontwo or more unhewn stones placed erect in the earth: a term also frequently used as synonymous with cromlech. The name is sometimes given also to structures where several blocks are raised upon pillars so as to form a sort of gallery. The most remarkable monument of this kind is probably that known as the Pierre Couverte, near Saumur, in France. It is 64 feet long, 14 feet wide, and about 6 feet high, and consists of four upright stones on each side, one at each end, and four on the top. The great stone of the dolmen represented in the accompanying cut is 33 feet long, 14½ feet deep, and 18½ feet across; it is calculated to weigh 750 tons, and is poised on the points of two natural rocks. It is now generally believed that dolmens were sepulchers, although afterward they may have been used as altars. They are often present within stone circles. The dolmen was probably a copy of a primitive rude dwelling, and may sometimes have been the actual structure in which the savage sheltered himself, converted afterward into his tomb. In several cases one of the stones is pierced with a hole. This is supposed to have been for the purpose of introducing food to the dead. Conclusions in regard to the original identity of various races have been based on the similarity of such structures in various parts of the world, as in Hindustan, Circassia, Algeria, and Europe; but too much importance may be attached to this, as the inclosed dolmen is simply the structure which savages of a very low type, of whatever race, would naturally erect for shelter. See
- n. a prehistoric megalithic tomb consisting of a capstone supported by two or more upright stones, most having originally been covered with earth or smaller stones to form a barrow.
GNU Webster's 1913
- n. A cromlech. See cromlech.
- n. a prehistoric megalithic tomb typically having two large upright stones and a capstone
- Perhaps incorrectly fabricated[clarification needed] from Breton taol maen ("stone table"): taol ("table") + maen ("stone"). See also menhir. (Wiktionary)
- French, from Breton *taolvean : *taol, alteration (influenced by taol, table) of tol, key + men, stone; see menhir. (American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
“That the simple mounds preceded those that contain a rude stone chamber, which we call a dolmen, is also not open to doubt, for associated with them we find the rudest hand-made pottery, and neither this pottery nor the swords of bronze previously mentioned have ever been discovered in dolmens.”
“Some archæologists also apply the word dolmen to rectangular chambers roofed with more than one slab.”
“According to a report in BalkanTravellers. com, the discovery was made by archaeologists Aleksadar Michev and Teodor Rokov, who were exploring a stone structure reminiscent of a 'dolmen' - a typical Thracian tomb from the Early Iron Age.”
“As the dolmen is a crude copy of the _serdab_  it can be claimed as one of the ultimate results of the practice of mummification.”
“A dolmen was a single chambered tomb formed by laying one long stone over several other stones set upright in the ground.”
“The so-called dolmen-deity, from the tombs of the Petit Morin.”
“Thirdly, the dolmen, which is a single slab of stone supported by several others arranged in such a way as to enclose a space or chamber beneath it.”
“In almost all countries where megalithic structures occur certain fixed types prevail; the dolmen is the most general of these, and it is clear that many of the other forms are simply developments of this.”
“The so-called dolmen-deity, Petit Morin, France 66 14.”
“A stone placed on another one is called a "dolmen," whether it be horizontal or perpendicular.”
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From Notre Dame de Paris by good ole Victor Hugo. (Also called The Hunchback of Notre Dame.)
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