I all but saved this one to the last, Kercado is the one that got away last time, the one that nagged at me most for not seeing it. So I cleared our schedule grabbed the camera and torch and promised the kids some crepes, mmmmm pancakes.
It didn't go down well to find the age old creperie had been bought and turned into a curry house, Rogan Josh ? in the middle of the afternoon ?
The kids said no.
So we made our way over to the Tumulus, an underwhelming description if ever I heard one, and paid the disinterested youth. In receipt of said pay we received a quickly translated into English pamphlet about the "Tumulus", so, armed to the teeth with information and exploratory tools we entered the woods.
A sign by the paying entrance fee area on the wall proclaimed the tumulus to be 4500 Before JC, Jimeny Cricket, now that's an old place.
The bright and breezy walk through the trees took but a minute before we were brought face to face with Carnac's beating heart. Perhaps, certainly maybe definitely the oldest of all the amazements currently found around Carnac, Spaceship mark says it's 4800 years BC, Bloomin Crikey that's an old place.
As we approached the entrance to the tomb a couple came out and went off round the back, giving us the chamber to ourselves for a while, we went inside. Carnac's beating heart had a puddle in it, the analogy lost a bit there, then Eric hit his sister and he got sent outside to find a naughty step to sit on. Honestly, even in here ?
But neither stumbling splashes nor minor miscreants could mar this moment, I admired the huge floating capstone above us and I searched for carvings, but I couldn't find them, perhaps the pamphlet could shed some light on them, oh right.. Eric's got it.
Found during excavations were flint, diorite and jadeite axes, and middle and late neolithic pottery, restored in 1925. Jane says now that it's as old as 5000bc, that's 7000BP, Bum pack that's an old place, and getting older all the while apparently.
I wish I could've stayed there for ages, but someone was hanging round the entrance, obviously our time was up, come in number 42.
So we followed the stone circle around the tumulus, people rarely go around the back, and here in the woods we found a good arc of small to medium stones. Burl says of the circle , it is an incomplete misshapen ring of 27 stones (we didn't see that many), graded in height from a six footer at the ESE, the best preserved arc is at the south, there are no stones at the north, he strangely doesn't mention the surmounting pillar, which must have gone up around the same time as the circle, I'm presuming. I wonder how far down it goes, does it touch the capstone ? what did it all look like before it was restored ? what did it all look like when the stone circle and menhir was put up ? Why does Doctor who always pick fit young girls to take to exotic locations ? they never fully appreciate it.
This is an absolute wonder of a place, somewhere to see in all seasons in all weathers, so with an afternoon in summer under our belts we pick Eric up from his naughty step and leave.
Our ferry tomorrow leaves at 11am, and it could take as long as eight hours to get there, so we leave in the middle of the night in the most torrential rain you've ever seen, got back into England to find scorchio sunshine, then we ran out of petrol with no money, aaargh, pain is the cleanser, pain is the cleanser!!!
Kercado tumulus is the oldest monument here, dated at 5,000 'avant J.C'. Seven thousand years old. It was very cool. It's privately owned so visitors have to pay but there was no one in the booth so we just walked right in. Situated at the highest point around, now surrounded by mature woodland full of big pink jays flying around above our heads, this small mound is like nothing I've seen before. It's a mound, (like the one at Arbor Low) with a menhir on top, a stone circle embracing it and a very nice passage and large chamber inside.
We spent some time inside considering the eight great wall slabs and giant capstone with is supported not by the wall slabs, but by corbelling built above the wall slabs. This gives the impression of the capstone floating. Amazing. I loved it here. I'd like to have spent longer but Mark had another seventeen sites to show us yet…
Untill recently the Tumulus de Kercado was the oldest dated megalithic site in Europe, conservative carbon dating putting it at around 4800BCE. The single chamber is reached through a low passage which is clearly distinguishable from the chamber itself. This layout points to the tumulus being very early in the Breton passage graves sequence.
About 2000 years after its construction a stone circle was added surrounding the original tumulus, as if to preserve its importance in the, then, modern age. This reverence, and the fact that the tumulus sits at the highest point in the area (hence the huge water tower next door) leads one the believe that the Tumulus de Kercado was possible the most important site in Carnac for many centuries. The water tower is a useul reference, sticking up above the more recent trees. It shows that in Neolthic times and beyond the tumulus would have been clearly visible from all over the Carnac region.
The tumulus is in the grounds of manor house and in private care. A small child or an honestly box will charge you about a euro for the pleasure of entrance but if you visit in the early morning you will almost certainly have the place pretty much to yourself, even in high season. However if you visit in the afternoon you will have the advantage of being able to pop into the creperie to pancake yourself up for the next site.