We arrived in time for the sunset and payed the girl in the shed, the kids were free and 2 euros for adults (I think). The path to the Naveta isnt long, first we pass a burial cave on our left, it had bars on so I didnt go over, then pass some cart ruts like those on Malta. Then from behind some bushes rises this huge burial chamber, I made a bee line for the entrance but, boy were those bars dissapointing. You fly god knows how far to see these magnificent places, you pay the lady on the way in and it's goddam closed, not since the Carnac rows have i been this annoyed.
That said what a place, and what a burial chamber its very well put together not like the Gallarus oratory is, but very similar . I was really looking forward to going in, (burial chambers being the most interactive of ancient places) with it being my first double decker and all, so all I could do was walk round, and wander on to the rocky hill a hundred yards away then it was sitting and staring at those bars.
I was going to ask the lady in the shad if it is ever open, but she had gone, it was nearly 9.00pm. Being able to see it from the road I always looked to see if I could see anyone on hands and knees, but to no avail.
Even if it was locked i'm still glad to have seen it
despite not entering.
Naveta d'es Tudons (see pages 304 and 305 of TME) is just off the main road at the western end of the island and judging by the huge car park with spaces for buses, frequently visited by coach parties.
Fortunately, we had it pretty much to ourselves. 'Naveta' means 'boat' and some archaeologist has interpreted the large burial chambers on the island as boat-shaped and given them this name. I can't see it myself. They are more burial chamber-shaped to my mind. Anyway, Es Tudons has been restored according to this boat theory so you have to visit this one with a pinch of salt.
It is an impressive pyramidal type structure and beautifully cool inside its double-decker chamber. We liked it a lot, despite it being a bit overly restored.
The tradition of the Naveta dels Tudons and the Pou de sa Barrina (the well of the driller) is the most interesting of all the Menorcan traditions associated with prehistoric sites. Two young friends courting the same girl, who was undecided whom to marry, agreed on a wager to settle the matter for her. One would build a structure in the shape of an upturned boat (naveta) on the plain at Es Tudons, and the other would drill a well nearby until he struck water. The first to complete his task would marry the girl.
When the young man building the boat structure was on his way with the last stone he leaned over the top of the well and asked his friend how he was getting on. His friend replied that he had just struck water. In a fit of savage jealousy the builder of the navetathrew his last stone into the well and it killed his rival. The naveta builder was never seen again.
The earliest printed version of this tradition known to the writer is d'Albranca, the pseudonym for Francesc Camps y Mercadal (1910).
An attempt to date this tradition can take account of a good deal of circumstantial evidence. It is certainly not 'tourist folklore' or fakelore, as there was very little tourism in Menorca until the late 1950s, and the printed versions are nearly all in Spanish or Catalan and in publications of extremely limited circulation [...]
A glance at the Naveta dels Tudons, combined with a study of all known illustrations of it in elevation, dating from c. 1890, shows that since the late 19th century it has been in its present condition as far as its uppermost remaining course is concerned: only one slab of the top remaining course is in place. Unless the tradition originated when the top surviving course was more complete (in the writer's opinion unlikely), the conclusion must be that popular tradition sees no significant difference between one stone missing from the top course and only one stone remaining of the top course.
Indeed, during a visit to Menorca in July 1981 the writer noted that at least one tourist guide told her party that the monument was completed all but for one stone; and the 'average' tourist seemed to accept this without question. This may become one of the first examples of fakelore to be produced for the Menorcan tourist trade.
From the esteemed L. V. Grinsell, in 'The Popular Names and Folklore of Prehistoric Sites in Menorca' - Folklore, Vol. 95, No. 1 (1984), pp. 90-99.