The Megaliths of the Bario Highlands

The Megaliths of the Bario Highlands

During my many visits to the Bario Highlands in northern Sarawak, I always love trekking and exploring this beautiful place as there is so much nature to absorb. At some of the trekking trails, you will come across massive man made stone structures or even stone carvings.

The man made structures or carvings are called Megaliths, which date back thousands of years and is an incredible sight when you stand next to them. One of the most popular megaliths is known locally as Batu Ritong, a strange rock structure which was clearly created by man.

The Megaliths of the Bario Highlands

Batu Ritong (Ritong Stone)

Who put it there? How was it put, no one seems to know. I have visited Batu Ritong two times in the last couple of years, and on both occasions, different experienced guides could not give me an accurate explanation to this phenomenal structure.

Locals claim that this is actually a burial ground for a Kelabit nobleman named Ritong hundreds of years ago. The site was excavated in 1962 by British soldier Tom Harrison, and originally, it was standing straight upright. But over the years, Batu Ritong has slanted to a 45 degree angle.

The Megaliths of the Bario Highlands

One one of my trips, I spoke to a team of international university students who were there to study thee megaliths, and one of them has told me that there were in fact over 800 megaliths, large and small found all over the highlands area. Only a handful of them are being studied and till this very day, the answer is still not conclusive.

The size of the Batu Ritong with a trekker next to it

When you visit the Bario Highlands, make sure you ask the local guides about a trek to any of the megaliths as it will surely give you a sense of mystery.  The famous ones are the Batu Narit which is a huge boulder with strange carvings on it and the other is Batu Ritong, a 4-5 hour trek from Bario to Pa Lungan village.  Bario is accessible via Miri using MasWings flight.

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Photos by David Hogan Jr

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