If you ever find yourself cruising around the western end of Lake Geneva, why not heave to, and check out the stones at Lutry. Chances are that you'll be doing your cruising in a motorcar, which for this particular prehistoric site is a real paradox. Before any roads or tracks were used, the way the original builders wanted you to see the site was from the lake, but if it wasn't for the motorcar, nobody in the present time would have seen the site at all.
The stones, which date from the Middle Neolithic (ca. 4500-4000 BC), were partially destroyed by a flood and buried under a landslide from the river Lutrive which runs into the lake a couple of hundred meters to the west. The site had been undisturbed for millennia until discovered when the area was being developed for a car park. The stones were carefully excavated and re-erected on the present site in 1986. I had a look around but I could not see any indication to mark were their original position within the modern car park, unlike the post holes in the car park at Stonehenge.
There are now twenty three stones, which seem to form two parts. The first part is made up of twelve standing stones forming a straight line running east to west and this section contains the largest stones. The second section comprises smaller stones ranging from eighty to twenty centimetres in height which form a slight curve. As the stones were partially destroyed, there may have been a mirror of this smaller section on the eastern side.
All the stones are very thin making the stelae very slender. They all show signs of being shaped too, their rounded tops may have been formed to symbolize a head. The fourth stone from the east, on the second row has various engravings. The top has chevrons cut into it which have been interpreted as hair, lower down are five rings, interpreted as female breasts elements and finally at the bottom is a male element shaped like a bottle opener. This stone has been reproduced and takes pride of place in a glass case a little further away in the Simplon passage of the main shopping area. These markings could easily be nothing more than graffiti, carved by a bored adolescent long after the site had been abandoned and passed into ruin.
In some ways the Lutry menhirs are typical of a lot of the Swiss megalithic sites, but their discovery and restoration is unique. Where as most ancient sites have been persevered in some form or another by successive generations of farmers or towns people, the megalithic sites of Switzerland were completely abandoned in the mass exodus and scorched earth policy adopted by the Helvetians and their neighbouring tribes in 58 B.C.