Came to the Forêt-de-Boixe at the end of a long hot day travelling around Charente with some English friends who owned a house in the region. These were normal, non-megalithic folk and were more interested to walk in the forest then looking at barrows or discarded old rocks. We parked up at the side of the road, just off the D18/D116 and as a consequence missed the official car park along with the information board giving details of the monuments, site layout and the history of the forest.
While the rest of the party headed off down the main track to the large clearing in the Chalet Boixe, I scouted around the forest looking in vain for the main tumulus, the Tumulus de la Boixe. After getting disorientated (I'm only told to get lost), I retraced my steps and came upon a little wooden sign saying Dolmen. Thinking this was the Tumulus de la Boixe, which was said to be 30m in diameter and 3m high, I was expecting to come out into a sizable clearing in the forest. Alas the primary objective of the mission was not to be and I had to contend myself with the secondary one in the shape of the Pierre du Sacrifice.
This stone is impressive though being around 4 metres long, 2 metres wide and about 1 to 1.5 meters in thickness. The official national de forest have provided an information board with some interesting facts about it, and artist impressions of the tumulus it came from. Apparently this was, until fairly recently, the largest tumulus in the area, measuring 45 metres in diameter, and standing 4 metres high with a circumference of 140 meters. The board then goes on to say that the tumulus was destroyed in the 19th century during construction of the D18 Mansle to Saint Amant de Boxie road, although this road was originally the old Roman road from from Périgueux to Poitiers called Chaussade Shod or path. Maybe the tumulus was destroyed for its building material when the road was "improved" and this stone was considered to be "cursed" and so is all that remains. See the section on additional folklore which is included below for more on this.
The information board gives two legends associated with this destroyed tumulus.
The first, and the source of the "Sacrifice" tag, suggests that the straight groove formed along the middle of the stone was used "aux sacrifices rituels et a la magic noire", (for sacrifice rituals to do with black magic). Presumably the "victim" was sacrificed upon the stone and the blood would be collected as it dripped down the groove into a cup or chalice. This would point to the stone being in a more or less flat position when the tumulus was intact, possibly forming part of the capstone or roof.
The groove is hardly natural and does not travel the whole width of the stone. See enclosed photos. There was record of a Sheppard's crook or Crosse being carved into one of the upright stones too. Whether this was ancient or done in the later Christian era is unclear, as is also if it survived the 19th century destruction. Maybe it was carved by the church authorities in order to "sanctify and purify" a pagan relic.
A much more ancient legend tells of the "petits hommes", the little people who were said to inhabit the forest. They were said to have built the tumulus and made it there home. They were so strong that they could carry the enormous 15 tonne blocks with their bare hands. Maybe they were the faries and they could move the huge stones using their magic.