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The Collaborative International Dictionary

Cromlech \Crom"lech\ (kr[o^]m"l[e^]k), n. [W. cromlech; crom bending or bent, concave + llech a flat stone; akin to Ir. cromleac.] (Arch[ae]ol.) A monument of rough stones composed of one or more large ones supported in a horizontal position upon others. They are found chiefly in countries inhabited by the ancient Celts, and are of a period anterior to the introduction of Christianity into these countries.

Douglas Harper's Etymology Dictionary

c.1600, from Welsh, from crom, fem. of crwm "crooked, bent, concave" + llech "(flat) stone." Applied in Wales and Cornwall to what in Brittany is a dolmen; a cromlech there is a circle of standing stones.


n. A dolmen or ancient underground tomb.


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


Cromlech (from Welshcrom, feminine form of crym "bent, curved" and llech "slab, flagstone") is a term used to describe prehistoric megalithic structures. 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, Portuguese and Spanish 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.

Usage examples of "cromlech".

The bones found in the cromlechs are those of a large and dolichocephalous race.

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.

Now it is quite clear--though you have perhaps never thought of it--that if the next generation of Englishmen consisted wholly of Julius Caesars, all our political, ecclesiastical, and moral institutions would vanish, and the less perishable of their appurtenances be classed with Stonehenge and the cromlechs and round towers as inexplicable relics of a bygone social order.