Maw Dolmens Building / Landmark in Manifold Sky | World Anvil

Maw Dolmens

The Maw Dolmens are an ancient set of megalithic structures associated with the prehistory of the Verdial peoples. Lying in a high valley along the Caudal G3/4 edge mountain range, the standing stones get their modern name from the fact that, because of the way that gravity works in these places, the ground feels 'flat' despite opposite edges laying at angles with one another, forming 'jaws.'

Purpose / Function

The exact purpose of the Maw Dolmens is unknown, but researchers at the Petalcap Vale University speculate that the site was used in the funerary practices of pre-literate verdials in the region. Bone fragments have been recovered from beneath the stone shelters (see Architecture), and the presence grinding mortars built into the altar stone and burn marks at the center suggest that embalming substances, ground and burnt offerings to ancient dieties, or ritual foodstuffs were prepared there. It is also unknown whether the people who erected the Maw Dolmens were of a verdial Lost Tribe or were the forbearers of the modern Vale Verdial people; similar sites have been found partially or wholly submerged in the Mycorrhizal Catacombs of Petalcap Vale, but the doings of biological processes and time have greatly impeded close archeological study.


The Maw Dolmens consist of two concentric rings of standing stones and an altar stone in a high mountain valley. The outermost ring is split into two semicircles along the line of the cube's edge (see below). Each semicircle is comprised of long stones arranged radially and bridged with broad, flat stones, creating sheltered spaces. The inner circle consists of smaller standing stones - around the size of an adult Verdial - and has a large stone slab at the center. The central altar stone has a number of mortars worn into its perimeter and it is believed these were once used for grinding perservative poultices. No images or inscriptions have been found at the Maw Dolmens, and it is currently believed that they were erected before the development of writing among the verdial peoples.   Much like a Terraceball court, the Maw Dolmens take advantage of the unique geometries of the Manifold Sky to achieve a specific aesthetic effect. The force of gravity in the Manifold points towards the nearest cube face. Spaces like the edges, corners, inflection layers, and commissures have unusual gravitational features because the vectors of these forces add together; the volume of a given cube layer is small enough that these transition zones are noticeable with some simple experiments, such as attempting to rest a ball on a smooth surface. The situation of the Maw Dolmens in the edge mountains - apparently to create the appearance of an open mouth - suggests that even pre-literate verdials understood this aspect of their environment.


One of the best known sites of verdial antiquity, the Maw Dolmens themselves are nonetheless sparsely visited by the general public due to the ruggedness and limited capacity of the foot trails leading to them and the fact that PVU research teams are more often than not conducting research there. The municipality of Petalcap Vale operates a visitor's center at the trailhead where individuals or small groups can book guided tours. Scale models, educational films, and live science demonstrations can all be found at the center and are popular attractions for school field trips.   The Petalcap Vale Customs Authority keeps a close eye out for any 'souvenirs' visitors might attempt to remove from the site (i.e. as part of a Seeker's pack). The fine for removing stone or artifacts from the site is somewhat open-ended and based on the cultural value of the object. The fear of excessive fines, long wait times for the decision (requiring PVU appraisal) to be made, and the potential for foreign visitors to be altogether banned from travelling within PVCA-controlled regions serve as strong deterrents against smuggling and vandalism.

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Cover image: by BCGR_Wurth


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