Ancient olive tree beside prehistoric ruins at Talati de Dalt on Menorca in the Balearics, Spain. - photo Zoe Dawes
Ancient olive tree beside prehistoric ruins at Talati de Dalt on Menorca in the Balearics, Spain. Photo Zoe Dawes

A slight breeze ruffles the silvery-grey olive leaves. A bird calls high above. In the distance a goat bleats and the sun beats down onto a scene unchanged for hundreds of years. A giant T-shaped stone stands in the middle of a circled stone wall, another T-stone leans tipsily against it, as if in need of support. The Bronze Age site of Talati de Dalt seems untroubled by the sturm und drang of modern life.

This is one of the most photographed TaIayotic sites on Menorca. It features in many Menorcan guide books but is still relatively unspoilt as few people actually visit it. Those who do, usually see it from the front, as in this photo, but walk round the back and get a different view …

Talati de Dalt prehistoric monument on Menorca in the Balearics, Spain. Photo Zoe Dawes

Sitting under the olive tree, I try to imagine the people who used to live in this ancient settlement. What were their lives like so long ago? And of course, I can’t imagine, so instead I simply sit and let my mind go free … As thoughts come in, I acknowledge them but don’t pursue them, letting them drift away on the breeze. The warmth of the Mediterranean sun seeps into my skin and slowly unfurls the tensions and stresses of daily life. I stretch out my legs and arms to get maximum benefit, relishing the simple pleasure of sunbathing under an old olive tree beside an ancient site on a lovely Spanish island. My son is wandering around the site nearby and later we’re going to have dinner with my brother Graeme, who lives in Menorca. I have no worries and at this moment I’m blissfully happy; as Henry Millar says, “… happy with the full consciousness of being happy.In his wonderful book, The Colossus of Maroussi about his travels in Greece, he goes on to say, “It’s good to be just plain happy; it’s a little better to know you’re happy; but to understand that you’re happy and to know why and how, in what way, because of what concatenation of events and circumstances, and still be happy, be happy in the being and the knowing, well that is beyond happiness, that is bliss …”

Talati de Dalt

Talati de Dalt prehistoric site on Menorca, in the Spanish Balearic islands. Photo Zoe Dawes

Not far from the capital city Mahon (Mao), Talati de Dalt is one of Menorca’s renowned Talayotic sites. The Talaiotic Period on Menorca went from the Bronze to the Iron Age, during which time a great number of villages, monuments and tombs were built from the local stone. The Talaiots are distinctive circular structures and the Taulas are T-shaped. There is great speculation regarding their purpose; religious, social, astronomical but whatever they were constructed for, their presence is an impressive element of Menorcan history. Talati de Dalt, dating back to 1400BC is one of the most evocative sites, with an elliptical, conical talayot, the taula with its leaning stone and a number of dwellings set amidst the rural landscape of charming Menorca.

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Happiness on Menorca under an olive tree near an ancient site Talati de Dalt