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Rainy birthday around Carnac

We'd had such"> a wonderful time with Spaceship Mark the previous day it was going to be hard to top it. But today was my birthday and Moth had promised me more of Carnac.

It started immediately, as we had stayed overnight at the Hôtel du Tumulus (31 rue du Tumulus, Carnac, phone 02 97 52 08 21) and as I threw open the window we were greeted with this sight: St Michel Tumulus

Not a bad way to start! Today we were going to focus on sites around Quiberon, Erdeven and Crucuno.

En route up towards the Dolmens de Rondossec we spotted this dolmen at the roadside, just before Plouharnel:

The Dolmen de Kergavat has a large chamber and some sizeable stones, but like so much stuff hereabouts, unceremonially ignored. But here it is, a huge and beautiful dolmen, virtually playing chicken with passing traffic, parked at the roadside.

I do like urban monuments, so the Dolmens de Rondossec were always likely to appeal to me. Whoosh in the middle of the village of Plouharnel are a lovely pair of funnel-type passage tombs, still quite buried under their mounds. They both have low passages which widen to a larger end. In a garden just opposite we noticed a menhir which looked suspiciously original to us.

Keep on Quiberon
The thin ribbon of land known as the Quiberon peninsula is much loved by holidaymakers by the looks of it. But today, with it pouring with rain, it was mercifully free of traffic, enabling us to take in the three fabulous sites down here with ease.
Julian calls it the Roh-an-Aod dolmen but the roadsigns point you to dolmen du Roch.

This very large dolmen occupies an entire plot in a small village setting, tightly squeezed on all sides by cottages and houses. We liked this one a lot as it so clearly refuses to be taken over by the human development around it. Defiant and wonderful.

Not far away is the little seaside town of St Pierre Quiberon which is home to two fabulous monuments. The St Pierre alignments nestle comfortably like a park in the urban setting.

St Pierre Quiberon town felt very like my home town of Stratford on Avon, satisfied with itself, charming and much-loved by visitors Indeed, if you transported all the stones from West Kennet Avenue to the Royal Shakespeare Theatre gardens, this gives you an idea of the feeling emanating from this monument. The three or four rows of stones (23 in total) were very Avebury-like in size and shape. And within a couple of hundred metres of these alignments is the WONDERFUL Kerbourgnec cromlech.

Julian's instructions in TME to find this horseshoe are unnecessarily complicated. Simply follow the path at the back of the St Pierre alignments past the tennis court and turn left at the top. About 50 metres in front of you, under the massive pine trees is the monument. Thirty seven stones form an incredibly graceful arc maybe 50 metres wide, which cannot be photographed to adequately describe this place. The arc now embraces a nice middle class tennis court. Fortunately, the land immediately in front of the cromlech is clear of development, so you can stand well back and contemplate the whole thing. I loved this. I loved that there were so many stones still up and that this quiet part of town had grown up around it without encroaching on it.

Leaving Quiberon behind we travelled a few kilometers north to find the St Barbe alignments.
Blimey! There're some big buggers here. And according to the books, it's not very long ago since the fields at St Barbe were littered with some pretty complete alignments. But 19th and 20th century activities felled many of them. Despite the driving rain, I had to get out of the car and walk right up to these stones. And I'm glad I did, because sometimes it's not until you actually stand next to something you realise just how massive it is. The biggest stone of St Barbe is seriously whopping – have a look at TME and se just how teeny Spaceship Mark looks standing next to it.

I was looking forward to the sites in and around the village of Crucuno. The Crucuno dolmen is bang slap in the middle of the village, now looking more like an extension to a farm building these days, but no less impressive for it.

I made a little sketch of it while I sat in the car out of the rain while Moth went off exploring.

He was looking for Crucuno rectangle which is in a field outside the village. Dripping wet, he returned to the car and we drove down the farm track as far as we could so that I least I could stay a bit dry.

The rectangle is a mystery to me. Like the rectangle at Manio, which we saw the day before, this is something that I couldn't get my head around. Stone CIRCLES make more sense to me, partly cos I've seen tons of 'em, so to see an alternative shape is very peculiar. The stones are large here (average of five or six feet high, I'd say) and the corners very precise. Recently cleared of its gorsey undergrowth I paced round it, trying to make sense of the lines and the corners and failing.

Just about 500ms away up among some trees is Mane Groh dolmen a lovely allee couverte with four transepted chambers and lots of capstones still up. A little stone cist, not unlike a water trough for horses, stood very close by.

Not far away, around the village of Erdeven are tons of goodies. Call me undedicated if you like, but the combination of the weather being so horrible, the lack of time for painting opportunities and the prospect of a very wet 2km walk to see more stuff, didn't appeal. Moth, being a completist wasn't going to miss a thing, so he set off from the car park at Erdeven and began his walk to take in the Kerjean alignments, Kerherzo alignments, Mane Braz dolmens, Coet er bein and La Chaisse de Cesar. I stayed in car, driving it up to a place to get a good view of the Kerherzo alignments.

I lit a fag, got out a flask of tea and my sketchbook and while munching on a pain au chocolat, made this little study.

After picking up Moth, who found himself back at Mane Groh dolmen at the end of his very wet walk, we thought we'd have a go and look for some monuments we'd spotted on the map at Belz, a seaside village a few kilometers away. We had only a not very detailed map and my megalithic radar to guide us. We subsequently discovered these don't even feature in Burl's 'Megalithic Brittany', so we were pleased to have found two of the three marked on the map.

Urban dolmens! I love 'em. Forgotten but not gone, the dolmen at Belz east was actually two burial chambers.

Only one still has capstones up, the other, directly next to it, just has a few uprights left marking the line of the chamber. It is situated on high ground overlooking the sea on a village greeny area.
Driving around a bit around the village a bit, we located Belz dolmen west up to its knees in soaking wet buttercups on a patch of land occupying an entire building plot among the houses.

Despite a bit of scout around, we couldn't find Belz dolmen south at all, though I suspect we got pretty close.

I'd pretty much had enough by this time; the rain was just too depressing to go on. And my flask of tea was empty. But Moth could resist 'just a couple more.' And so it was we saw the Menhirs du Vieux Moulin

and Les Trois Marchants which being so big and so close to each other were all part of the same complex at one time, surely?

But Moth's fiendish plot was not quite over. He insisted on detour of just 100ms off the main road to see
Runesto dolmen. It doesn't look like very much until you are right up to it, because the bulk of the structure still lies below ground level, hidden under its mighty capstone. I dived straight in, to feel the space and the height and keep out of the rain. A large, ugly snail (ugh!) had had the same idea and lurked scarily on one of the giant uprights so I didn't stay in for long.

Despite the rain I'd seen eighteen sites around Carnac. Not a bad 42nd birthday treat, was it?

Jane Posted by Jane
24th May 2005ce
Edited 24th November 2005ce

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