A monument known as the ‘Spanish Stonehenge’ has been uncovered by a summer drought after 50 years underwater.
The stone circle, officially named the Dolmen of Guadalpera, has been submerged under the Valdecañas Reservoir in Spain since 1963. Although it has appeared in partial view over the last five decades, this is the first time since the 60s the entire monument is visible.
The emergence of the stones is a result of Spain’s record-breaking hot summer, during which two heatwaves caused a drought which reduced the reservoir’s shoreline and brought the construction to dry land.
Summer drought dropped the Valdecañas Reservoir in Spain low enough to reveal the "Spanish Stonehenge," an ancient monument that hadn't been seen since the 1960s. @weatherchannel https://t.co/Rkbtdbypbz pic.twitter.com/Ry8jPOn9xY
— Ron Brackett (@rontimes) September 22, 2019
The country experienced above-average temperatures early in the season which continued into September. June marked the third-driest month Spain has faced this century, IFLScience report.
Built around 7,000 years ago, the Dolmen of Guadalpera is made up of 150 granite stones, some of which are carved, stood vertically in a circular formation. The stones form an egg-shaped central chamber five metres (16.4 feet) in length, as well as an access corridor over four times the size in length.
A carved stone two metres high stands at the entrance to the central chamber, with markings which archaeologists believe represent the River Tagus; the river which was dammed to create the Valdecañas Reservoir.
It’s thought the Dolmen of Guadalpera originally had a roof and may have served as a tomb, trading hub or as a place to perform religious rituals. According to The Local, the Romans were the first to value the site before German archaeologist Hugo Obermaier visited it in 1926.
The monument was submerged when the reservoir was constructed under dictator Francisco Franco in the 1960s.
After the stones emerged this summer, a group of locals started a petition to have it moved away from the lake amid fears the water will destroy it, taking away an important piece of prehistoric Spain. The granite stones are porous and the years spent under the reservoir has taken its toll on them.
The campaign to save the stones is being led by local resident Angel Castaño, who spoke about the Dolmen of Guadalpera to The Local.
We grew up hearing about the legend of the treasure hidden beneath the lake and now we finally get to view them.
There certainly may have been treasures buried beneath the stones once upon a time, but for us now, the treasures are the stones themselves.
Like Stonehenge, they formed a sun temple and burial ground. They seemed to have a religious but also economic purpose, being at one of the few points of the river where it was possible to cross, so it was a sort of trading hub.
If we miss this chance it could be years before they are revealed again. And the stones, which are granite and therefore porous, are already showing signs of erosion and cracking, so if we don’t act now it could be too late.
Angel hopes the regional government of Extremadura will step in to move the stones to a nearby site within weeks.
Hopefully officials will work to ensure the monument is not lost.
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Emily Brown first began delivering important news stories aged just 13, when she launched her career with a paper round. She graduated with a BA Hons in English Language in the Media from Lancaster University, and went on to become a freelance writer and blogger. Emily contributed to The Sunday Times Travel Magazine and Student Problems before becoming a journalist at UNILAD, where she works on breaking news as well as longer form features.