In France, as in England, and indeed most countries [Stones] are usually connected in the popular belief with fairies or with demons - and in England, with Robin Hood. In France this latter personage is replaced by Gargantua, a name made generally celebrated by the extraordinary romance of Rabelais. A cromlech near the village of Toury, in Britany, is called Gargantua's stone; a not uncommon name for the single stone or menhir is palet de Gargantua (Gargantua's quoit).
A very common name for cromlechs among the peasantry of France is fairies' tables, or devils' tables, and in one or two instances they have obtained the name of Caesar's table; the covered alleys, or more complicated cromlechs, are similarly named fairies; grottos, or fairy rocks. The single stones are sometimes called fairies' or devils' seats.
The prohibition to worship stones occurring so frequently in the earlier Christian ecclesiastical laws and ordinances, relates no doubt to these druidical monuments, and was often the cause of their destruction. Traces of this worship still remain.
In some instances people passed through the druidical monuments for trial, or for purification, or as a mode of defensive charm. It is still a practice among the peasantry at Columbiers, in France, for young girls who want husbands, to climb upon the cromlech called the Pierre-levee, place there a piece of money, and then jump down. At Guerande, with the same object, they despose in the crevices of a Celtic monument bits of rose-coloured wool tied with tinsel. The women of Croisic dance round a menhir. It is the popular belief in Anjou that the fairies, as they decended the mountains spinning by the way, brought down the druidical stones in their aprons, and placed them as they are now found.
From Thomas Wright's 'The Celt, the Roman, and the Saxon', parts of which are reprinted in a review in The Gentleman's Magazine v.193 1852 Jul-Dec (p233).
Oppidum (plural oppida) was the name used by Caesar to describe the Celtic towns that he discovered during his conquest of Gaul.
In archaeology, the term is now used to describe all fortified Celtic sites covering a minimum area of 15ha and dating back to the second half of the 2nd and 1st centuries BC (the late La Tène period).
These towns were both economic and political centres. They are considered to be the first towns to the north of the Alps.
This website offers you the opportunity to find out more about each of the oppida via information sheets. For more information, click on an oppidum or go to the themed exhibitions…