Benozzo believes these dialect names confirm the hypothesis that the large slabs of stone used for building megalithic monuments were transported by lashing them to the bottom of a skin-covered boat. This hypothesis was first proposed by Geraldine and Matthew Stout in their book on the passage tomb at Newgrange (Newgrange, published by Cork University Press), based on the practice of the quarrymen in Ireland who, until the 19th century, transported 3-tonne blocks of stone in this way, waiting for the tide to lift the boat and its underhung cargo of stone, which weighed far less under water.
‘The words ventrecurgo and bronbag indicate that the stone was seen and described as the ‘breast’ or ‘belly’ of the boat and the two words preserve a memory of the prehistoric transportation of stones by sea,’ Benozzo argues, adding that the two words corroborate linguistically an explanation that was previously ‘a brilliant archaeological conjecture’.
This article is an extract from the full article published in World Archaeology Issue 43. Click here to subscribe