Campo Lontano proved hard to find. Very hard. Julian gives no instructions as to how to find it on page 440 and 441 of TME where he shows it. We had only Moth and Sals's desk research to go on: a Google Earth print-out and some notes translated from Italian to English by google.
From Florinas, the sat nav took us down blind alleys and eventually impassable farm tracks and after a long frustrating detour around some mountains we finally found a road sign to it, just west of Banari and Siligo. However road signs, we had learned, can take you up more blind alleys or only point you half the way then leave you stranded, so we weren't counting any pollo.
We drove up the steep, narrow, rutted farm track narrowly avoiding tearing off the hire car's undercarriage or scratching the bodywork (drivers of a nervous disposition, don't try this lane!) until we reached a junction. Which way? There was no sign. We left the car where it was and walked down the left hand fork only to be stopped by a wire fence which had been erected across the track. Not this way, obviously. So we tried the other way which took us up to a farm building. We could hear some sheep bells and there were two cars parked: "Buen Giorno!" we called out. After a while a tiny brown man in a dirty vest appeared from the barn and we pointed to the monument on the map. He pointed in a vague direction eastwards and after a conversation entirely in English on our part and Italian on his, managed to work out it was in a field (campo) 100 (cento) metres beyond the white rocks (roccia bianco) that we could see.
It was hot, there was no shade and it looked like it was about 1200ms away, but we'd come this far and couldn't give up now, so we walked along the track which ran parallel to an enormous rocky cliff above which a couple of eagles soared.
A farm truck passed us. A younger man leaned out and indicated that it was in the meadow beyond a big tree he pointed to o the road ahead of us. As indeed it was. Shaded under a large fig tree.
This is no ordinary monument - Campo Lontano (which means 'far field') is amazing as it combines the skill of rock cutting with the construction of a freestanding tomba. It is entirely carved from an above-ground naturally occurring large rocky outcrop. It looked like it had been partially shaped – the same shape as the internal structure of Molafa
which we had seen earlier in the day. The front of the tomb was cut to the same shape too – using all the elements seen in a tomba di giganti's stele in fact: catflap, square base, arched top and mullion. The cat flap was too small to squeeze through, but peering through I could see the tomb has been cracked open at the back, so I whizzed round and climbed it.
Internally, it feels like a Menorcan naveta – a small room tall enough to stand up in and wide enough to stand arms outstretched. At the end with the cat flap a low bowl or shallow receptacle had been carved on the floor – for liquid offerings perhaps?
This is a remarkable monument in every way – the closest thing I've seen to it before is the freestanding rock cut tombs in Lycia, Turkey which (I believe) are of a later date.
Yes, it was worth the hours it took to find it and the sunburned shoulders.
We'd not so far encountered any dolmen of such really hefty proportions in Sardinia.
Julian's instructions in TME coupled with new brown road signs helped us find it easily. It's an absolute whopper, constructed simply with four massive slabs each more than foot thick on a natural bedrock foundation. It's lost its back end but that allowed yellow rays from the setting sun to illuminate the chamber and shine out through the catflap. Very picturesque.
The western slab, I noticed bulged out at the front portal end. Precisely the same place on the inside had been cut into a little platform or bench making a very handy seat. In fact, just right for sitting, lighting up a small cigar and considering all the miraculous places we had seen to today.
As we began our drive back, a beautiful leveret leapt out on to the road in front of us and stopped long enough for us to admire it, before leaping back into the tall grasses.