A cromlech is a burial site for the incinerated remains of dead people. These remains are found mainly in the middle of the stone circle. They were built in the first millennium before Christ.
Cromlech of Adiko Soro, in Eugi, Navarra
The size of these stone circles is variable, but normally they are between 2 and 13 meters in diameter. They are made up of 8-50 stones, which are also called orthostats. These orthostats can be either tombstones or blocks, it depends on the geology of the area where they are.
Cromlechs are constructed in two different ways: Some of them are just simple stone circles of tombstones or blocks, and the others have a tumular structure in it. Rarely these cromlechs are around a dolmen, like the one in Pozontarri, in the megalithic station of Adarra.
In some cromlechs one of the orthostats is a high monolith or menhir that stands out. These menhirs are sometimes isolated.
Cromlechs in Illarrita, Okabe, Basse Navarre
Cromlechs can stand alone, but normally they are a part of a group of stone circles. The biggest group of cromlechs known in the Basque Country is the one in Okabe, which has more than 25 cromlechs.
Their situation is similar to other megaliths: passes, hills, plateaus, on both slopes, in the near of old transhumancy roads, where a wide panoramic view can be appreciated.
Cromlechs in the Basque Country
The cromlechs that we find in the Basque Country are burial sites for the incinerated remains of inhabitants of Euskal Herria, probably shepherds from the first millennium before Christ.
The first thing to attract one’s attention in relation to the distribution is, as J. Altuna already mentioned in 1997, the “sudden disappearance of cromlechs in the Leizaran Valley, that is, in the middle of the Basque Country”. They seem to be mainly linked to Vascons.
Indeed, they are plentiful in the eastern part of the country ( Navarre , Lower Navarre and eastern Gipuzkoa), including the Adarra mountain range. Whereas the following range, Uzturre – Ipuliño, doesn’t include any. When going to the West, there are but a few exceptional examples (Aralar and some in Biscay) that can confirm this rule.
Cromlech of Añona, in Arano, Navarra