This place was strangely not on my list, but as I was en route to Les Pierre Plats and saw the sign for it as I was passing, I thought I might as well go for a quick shufty, it's not often a dolmen throws itself in front of you.
I cant really say where it is, as I was not really sure where I was, such is the clarity of French roads signs. I parked on the side of the road right by the path between houses, it is less than a minutes walk.
It is now becoming apparent that one gets very little time to ones self at these places in the summer months, and Mane Er Hrouek is no exception, I'm beginning to pine for a little solitude.
A family was preparing to leave as we got there, so we went straight into the tomb. The walled walkway down beneath the cairn is modern, the chamber itself was never open, it was always intended to be buried and passage-less. The walkway bends to the right and goes down to the chambers entrance. It is not possible to stand up in the chamber, unless your a Krankie on your mothers side, inside the chamber it is cool and damp, which is a nice time compared to the heat outside.
With the light off it is rather dark, only a very little light gets all the way down to the chambers entrance. Whilst hunkering down in the half dark I hear some German voices approaching, our time in the underworld is at an end and we relinquish the tomb to it's new admirers.
Outside the day is still bright and were left blinking in the afternoon light, as the chamber is erm occupied ? we go up on to the top of the cairn. Below us and in between the walkway entrance is just the biggest of scoops of cairn material, enough stuff has gone, that you could build another really big cairn with it. There's a million ancient sites around Carnac but some have been seriously defiled in the past.
The whole of the site is quite unphotographable, there is too much vegetation on and around the mound, big trees, gorse and assorted bushes, but neither the giant scoop nor the flora can hide the massive size of this place.
On our way back to the car we pass yet more people coming up, too many people.
Hidden away among the homes of Locmariaquer village you'll see the sign to Mané er Hroeuk tumulus. There's a parking place right by it. This is a right big bugger of a mound and from what I could see rather untidy on the outside; there is no clear profile.
Steps have been constructed that lead down into the tomb. A short low passageway takes the visitor into a single large roughly round chamber. The chamber is lined with big slabs, but with no carvings that I could see. Above the wall slabs is a rough attempt at corbelling before the whole thing is topped with two giant capstones.
We first visited the Manne-er-Hroek, the Montagne de la Fee, or de la
Femme, which bears in the marine charts the name of "Butte de Cesar," for it was the fashion with antiquaries to attribute to Caesar and the Romans every Celtic monument, although bearing no resemblance whatever to any
work of these conquerors.
The guide who furnished the light and showed us the grotto is the widow of a Polish officer. She had a Scotch terrier, which she wanted us to accept. The legend of the mound is this:--A widow had the misfortune of losing her only solace, her son, compelled by law to embark for foreign lands. Years rolled by; he did not return. All said he was lost; but the heart of a mother hopes for ever, and the sad Armorican went every day to the point of Kerpenhir, whence she
surveyed the ocean, and searched the depths of the horizon with tearful eyes for the purple sail which was to bring joy and peace to her dwelling.
One day, when she was returning sad as usual to her desolate home, she was accosted by an old woman, who enquired the cause of her
troubles; and, on hearing them, advised her to heap a pile of stones, so that, mounting on the summit, she might see to a greater distance, and perhaps discern the long looked-for vessel. During the whole night the two women worked, and carried in their aprons the stones they gathered on the heath. In the morning their task was finished, and the Bretonne was scared to see the enormous heap that had been piled together; but the other quieted her fears, and helped her to climb to the top, whence soon the happy mother beheld the vessel of her son. The fairy, her assistant, had disappeared.
This story evidently bears a vague tradition of this tumulus having been raised by a woman, and of some maritime expedition made by him for whom it was probably destined. The name of fairy is attached in Brittany to everything--mountains, springs, grottoes, rocks; every accident in nature is explained by a fairy origin.
From 'Brittany & Its Byways' by Fanny Bury Palliser (1869), which you can read on Project Gutenberg.