The Wiltshire Magazine published an paper by Dr Phené read to the British Archaeological Association at devizes, 1880.
In it Dr Phené describes some of the monuments of Menorca, none of which had been documented anywhere in print before. He was specifically tracing trilithons as at Stonehenge, from Africa across Europe.
I believe he was shown Sa Comerma de Sa Garita, which Dr Phené describes as having a square plan. This is the only site in Menorca which seems to fit the bill as most are horse shoe-shaped and not bounded by open trilithon-style stones.
Here is an extract from the paper:
"Of the extraordinary remains in Minorca we have absolutely no historic information; the masonry indicates that they are Cyclopean of the oldest type, while that of the Nurhags of Sardinia, with which many suppose they agree, is often in courses, of wrought or well-trimmed stone. The grand feature of the Nurhage is also wanting in the Baleares, viz., the spiral staircase or ramp, which is found also in the brocks of Scotland. The plan of the grandest structure in Minorca is square at the base, and forms a pyramid, of which there is no example in Sardinia. In this building the angles are rounded, as before described.
There is historic reference to the Nurhags of Sardinia, and even their builder, lolaus, is mentioned by Diodorus Siculus, but the antiquity of the remains in Minorca is lost in the mist of ages, or referred to the time of the very oldest of the mythological deities,
I find a quotation from Homer, and also from Pindar, which I have had not had time to verify, that there was a place in the Balearides, supposed to have been the palace of Saturn. I can imagine no place more suitable for this description than what I have called the grand temple."
Lying almost lost and crumbling badly just 50ms away from Ses Roques Lisses is the remarkable Na Comerma taula sanctuary. It should NOT be confused with what Julian calls Sa Comerma de sa Garita on page 315 of TME. What Julian is referring to seems to us be part of the complex at Gaumes, whereas Na Comerma (or Sa Comerma) is a site away from Gaumes, independent in its own right.
It felt as if I'd been let in on local secret. I guess it is hardly ever visited. It would have been impossible to find without local knowledge and/or an extraordinarily detailed map. Though sizeable, so hidden by trees is it, that we didn't see it until we were virtually upon it.
From a terrible higgledy-piggledy mess of masonry rises a tiny taula which by some miracle still has its topstone.
Its upstone is half buried in rubble. You could make out part of a wall which once enclosed the sanctuary, perhaps once as thick as the one at Torre Llisa Vell (see previous weblog.)
In addition, there were beautiful ruins of what I read to be houses, with flat dressed cross-beams still mounted on top of their supports.
And the day was made complete when we spotted a tortoise. We'd seen a few small ones playing 'chicken' on the roads, but this one was safe from becoming roadkill. They are a protected species now, their numbers having been cruelly depleted for the pet trade up until the late 20th century. Like this monument, they feel like ancient survivors.
Approximate long/lat coordinates only, as we were taken (in the end) to the site & Ses Roques Lisses by someone who knew where they were!
Access: A walk of a few hundred metres after parking in a 'back entrance' to Torre d'en Gaumes a few hundred metres south of the main entrance.
See Ses Roques Lisses. From there, we walked roughly south or SSW for another few hundred metres. Hidden on the far side of a fair-sized clump of tangly trees, you may be lucky enough to find the monument(s). Very sorry to not be able to be more helpful!
Visited 3 June 2005
Having asked for directions from the friendly ticket seller at Torre d'en Gaumes, I'd spent a good couple of hours looking for this site and Ses Roques Lisses during the afternoon, with no joy. Perhaps I was unlucky, but I don't think either site is easy to find!
Fortunately, when I told her I hadn't found them, the lovely ticket seller said she'd take me & Jane to them if we came back at closing time.
The site is a Taula sanctuary with a strange squat 'T' tucked in the corner. This may be another illustration of a taula 'reconstruction' diagram I've seen, showing that (at least some) taula sanctuaries may have had several smaller 'T's on pillars round the edges of the sanctuary.
It is also adjacent to a hypostyle-type arrangement of pillars and lintels.