The Modern Antiquarian. Stone Circles, Ancient Sites, Neolithic Monuments, Ancient Monuments, Prehistoric Sites, Megalithic MysteriesThe Modern Antiquarian

Anghelu Ruju

Rock Cut Tomb


I do like rock cut tombs. So it was inevitable that the necropolis of Anghelu Ruju, not far from Alghero airport, would thrill me. I didn't really know what I'd be faced with as I entered this unassuming flat field, today sizzling in the afternoon sun; but I certainly didn't expect quite such richness, variety, ingenuity and technical rock-cutting wizardry on such a whopping and obsessive scale.

All the tombs here, and there are more than 26 of them opened up in an area no bigger than a football field, are cut directly in the rock underfoot, sculpted with slopey-down entrance passages to reach the first of (often) many small burial chambers. Further chambers morph off from each other to create a rambling honeycomb of cells and passages connected by square cut openings just wide enough for person to squeeze through. Some traces of decorative carvings remain; bull's heads, false lintels, circles and in one particularly large tomb two supporting pillars have been carved.

I imagined the paintings that I felt sure that must once have graced the walls of these cells – images of totemic animals, zigzags, stripes, and wiggly lines perhaps symbolizing water or light, stylised bulls, round discs signifying the sun, the moon and stars perhaps, rendered in ochres and umbers. It seems inconceivable that these tombs weren't decorated.

How many more of these subterranean rock cut tombs are yet to be discovered? My best guess is 'lots' and they're almost certainly not far away.

Fitz's detailed description (below) says more than I possibly can.

If you go to Sardinia, this is a 'must see'. In fact go to Sardinia just to see it. Budget airlines now go to Alghero.
Jane Posted by Jane
1st June 2008ce

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