Gurugalhinna Megalithic Burial Grounds

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Cist burials represent a prevalent form of megalithic burial observed throughout Sri Lanka’s prehistoric era. These burial sites have been extensively documented across various regions, including the Jaffna Peninsula, North Central Province, Western Province, Southeastern Province, and Eastern and Southern Provinces.

Characterized by the use of stone slabs, cist burials come in varying sizes, both large and small. Typically, they are constructed by arranging four stone slabs vertically, forming a box-like structure. These stone arrangements serve as protective enclosures for the deceased, preserving their remains within the earth for generations to come.

A general practice in cist burials involves placing the cremated ashes of individuals alongside personal belongings such as beads, arrowheads, and various weapons within clay pots. These pots are then sealed with a stone slab, marking the final resting place of the deceased.

The highest concentration of cist burials in Sri Lanka is currently found along the river valleys of Malwatu Oya, Yan Oya, Kiridi Oya, Deduru Oya, and others. Among these, the largest number of megalithic burial sites are situated within the expansive 1400 square kilometres of the Yanoya Central Valley. According to reports by Mandis (2017:105), this valley alone boasts 29 megalithic burial sites. Overall, the Yan Oya Valley is home to a total of 32 burial sites belonging to the prehistoric culture.

Among the burial sites in the Madhyayan Oya valley are notable locations such as Tammannagodella, Galadakatuwa, Kalpe, Gurugalhinna, Egollakadawala, Elapatwewa, Mahpotana, Beravayagala, KokEbe, Panwatta, Padarullawa, Dibulwewa, Rabewa, Malporwala, Kirimatiya, Oluwewa, Netugollawa, Kanagahaulpatha, Karuwalagaswewa, Vahalkada, Mawathaveva, Maradanmaduwa, Parangiyawadiya Dikveva, Athabediveva, Panketiyava, Kativeva, and others.

Gurugalhinna Megalithic Cemetery was initially uncovered and examined in 1896 by R. W. Levers. Subsequently, in the 1970s, Raja De Silva from the Department of Archaeology led excavations at Gurugalhinna. However, the burials at the site have not been scientifically dated.

The informational plaques at the location state that the cemetery was in active use from the 7th century BC to the 3rd century AD. The archaeological board estimates that approximately 100 cist burials may be dispersed throughout this area, underscoring the significant historical and cultural importance of Gurugalhinna Cemetery.

The Gurugalhinna Cemetery is adjacent to the Anuradhapura – Trincomalee road. 1.5 km past Halmillawa Junction, you can see the notice board by the Department of Archaeology near the road.


  • Mendis, D.T. (2018) ‘ශ‍්‍රී ලංකාවේ ප‍්‍රාග් හා පූර්ව ඓතිහාසික අවධියේ භාවිත ශවෝපාචාර ක‍්‍රම’, නැණස : විමර්ශිත පර්යේෂණ ශාස්ත්‍රීය සංග්‍රහය , 2(15), pp. 126–137.

Also See

Map of Gurugalhinna Megalithic Burial Grounds

Please click on the button below to load the Dynamic Google Map (ගූගල් සිතියම් පහලින්)

The map above also shows other places of interest within a approximately 20 km radius of the current site. Click on any of the markers and the info box to take you to information of these sites

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Travelling Directions to Gurugalhinna Megalithic Burial Grounds

Anuradhapura to Gurugalhinna Megalithic Cemetery
Via : Mihintale – Kahatagasdigiliya – Halmillaya
Total Distance : 42 Kms
Travel Time : 45 Minutes
Travel Time : 10 – 20 Minutes
Driving Directions : View on Google Map


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