Designed to enchant: the great dolmens of Neolithic northern Europe

The word ‘dolmen’ – derived from the Breton taol maen (‘stone table’) – is regarded as a folk term for Neolithic monuments that consist of a massive capstone supported by three or more upright stones, or orthostats. Archaeologists have sought to subdivide these monuments into more precise typological categories, but Vicki Cummings and Colin Richards, the authors of Monuments in the Making, politely suggest that they are wrong to do so. Is it time to reclaim the word? Chris Catling reports.