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(A bit) Lost in France

Walking in the rain
While Jane and I were in Brittany recently (">see her weblogs), at Erdeven, I went off walking while she painted from the car due to heavy rain. So I thought I'd better contribute the monuments I saw then to the 'tale'.

After wandering around the">Kerzerho Alignments I went off to see Les Geants. I would then carry on through the woods to see the Kerjean Alignments, the Mane Braz dolmens, and anything else I had time for and could find. The first setback was that I set off in completely the wrong direction! I walked down to the 'bottom' of the main alignments but it soon came apparent there was no path to continue on. I backtracked.

Les Geants de Kerzerho
The (signposted) path to Les Geants de Kerzerho actually sets off from very near the car park, on the left as you walk along the main rows from the car park. As I found once I was back in the dry, Julian does say in">The Megalithic European (TME) that they're to the north of the alignments…. I was already soaked. Whoopee!

So, a little way down the path, there they were. And very wonderful they are too. Must have been absolutely magnificent once, as they're still fantastically impressive in their ruin. What it must've been to see them and the other small patches of alignments still evident in the woods when they were all continuous! More of that later.

Bit battered, but huge

It was here I discovered the second setback. We'd forgotten to recharge the batteries on the digital SLR. Luckily I also had Jane's 'point & shoot', so it could've been worse. And it could've been raining. (Drip, drip.)

One of the largest Geants

As they're now quite isolated a short distance from the remaining main part of the Kerzerho alignments, it's kind of difficult to get a 'handle' on just why these extra large stones are bunched together like this. Possibly if the intervening stones were still there or if there wasn't vegetation inbetween, it'd make more sense.

Unfortunately, I missed the holed stone Julian mentions, as I was unwilling to get TME out of my rucksack in the heavy rain.

Kerjean Alignments
Following the signs through the woods towards Mane Braz dolmens (I was to find that the web of paths throughout the woods are pretty well signposted) it was only 5 or 10 minutes before I could see the Kerjean Alignments peeking through the trees to the right of the path. Might be more difficult to spot with growth on the trees in the summer, but shouldn't be too much of a problem.

Difficult to photograph Kerjean effectively

There are a fair number of stones left here, mostly smaller than the remaining Kerzerho alignments and far smaller than Les Geants. But still well worth seeing in their disarray, and helping to get a feel of what this area must've been like when the alignments stretched for kilometres through the now wooded area.

Just around one of the next corners, there are a few stones visible to the left of the path in the woods (probably quite a few if you're up to having a thrash about in the undergrowth). For the whole walk, it's well worth scanning the woods on both sides, as there are many small 'patches' of remnants from the originally wide-ranging alignments hereabouts.

Mane Braz dolmens
All along, I was very grateful that the paths were signposted, as it was so wet that I don't think the rain would have done a map or a book any good at all. And truth be told, the only maps I had would probably have proved sadly inadequate. Plus, trying to give directions would have made this weblog even more tortuous!

From Kerjean, the walk to Mane Braz was probably around 15-20 minutes, though it has to be said that the rain lent me speed! Just before I reached Mane Braz, the path started to climb a bit, and the land began to rise above me on my left.

Probably at around this point, Julian seems to describe the dolmens as being visible from the path, but I wasn't in the mood for stopping and studying the lie of the land any more than necessary, trusting completely to the signs. (I think there's probably also a shortcut at some point here but I didn't think it was worth trying, especially with limited time and the sopping undergrowth.)

Transepted grave in foreground

Eventually, a signpost sent me to the left, a little way up onto a mound at the edge of a smallish, more open area of land with a more 'heathlike' feel – reminding me of">St Just where we had been a few days before. And there were the dolmens.

'Simple' passage grave

Really beautiful on a thinly tree-grown, glade-like mound, there are 4 monuments here. The first 2 that I approached were a classic Brittany passage grave with transepts, and a 'simpler' passage grave. There is also a heavily denuded semi-subterranean one and, finally, the stripped remnants of another (that can hardly even be termed megalithic in its current state!)

Semi-subterranean passage grave

If only the sun had been out, what a place for a relaxing picnic, a chill and a chat!!! And the walk would be lovely in the sun! I've since learnt that there seems to be another very ruined dolmen to the SW of the mound, and a fallen menhir to the south. Ah well, next time. In the meantime, here's another photo of what I did see!

Stripped remnants

I spent 15-20 minutes at the dolmens and it wasn't nearly long enough. It didn't help that a fair bit of it was spent crouching in the chamber of the largest dolmen, juggling batteries, as those in the 'point & shoot' were now also practically dead. (Having not been fresh to begin with.)

So, all too soon, I set off to retrace my steps back to Erdeven where Jane was waiting.

Coet er Bei and La Chaise de Cesar
As I rejoined the main path, I remembered seeing signs to another dolmen, much earlier on the walk. I couldn't remember the name, but I noticed that there were signs to what I thought (possibly wrongly, in retrospect) was the same one, from here – Mane Groh.

It seemed to me that if I continued on the path, it would probably bend round on its way to 'the mystery dolmen', Mane Groh, and either allow me to see the dolmen on my way back, or just save me walking back the way I'd come.

I set off following the signs I'd spotted, onward towards Mane Groh dolmen. It soon became apparent that it didn't bend back round, but I'd come far enough that it was worth keeping going in the hope of a cross-path.

After around 15 minutes I suddenly saw a sign to my left for a 'new' monument. I'd completely forgotten about La Chaise de Cesar and Coet er Bei, but here they were! And even better, I could just see the stones through the trees.

Coet er Bei rows

La Chaise de Cesar is very impressive, and actually doesn't stand out quite as I expected, from a distance, anyway, as there are a few other stones around the same size here. It's impressive though, and its shape is indeed, very chairlike.

Interestingly, in TME Julian calls the La Chaise a "gorsedd". This seems strange to me, as a gorsedd in the sense he usually uses it is a natural rock formation (or so I always thought) whereas this is clearly an artificially erected stone.

The stones here are very scattered but impressive, and many are difficult to 'see' as rows. It's indisputable, but very difficult to imagine that they were once part of same alignments as Kerzerho, Kerjean and the various other groups I'd walked past. Especially as I'd walked, so knew just how far they once stretched!

Chaise et pouffe de Cesar(?!)

Then, as I wandered among the scattered stones, I began to get a strange feeling of deja-vu. Suddenly it dawned that I had indeed been here before – on a previous trip years ago, looking for a dolmen that I never found that time. But I had seen it only that morning. What was it called??? Ah. It was Mane Groh…! Curse my lousy memory – I'd been following signs to a monument I'd left only a few hours before!

More alignments at Coet er Bei

This meant that I was right back over by">Crucuno which in turn meant that I could call Jane on my mobile and get her to pick me up!!!

So, all was well that ended more than well. As well as seeing the stuff I really wanted to, I'd seen La Chaise de Cesar and Coet er Bei, discovered that I'd already seen them, which also enabled me to put a name to a monument I'd previously not had a name for, and I'd got a lift instead of having to walk back to Erdeven!

I'd heartily recommend spending a whole day here wandering these paths – there are more dolmens within walking distance than I had time for. Start at Mane Groh or Erdeven and just do it. Don't forget to tell us all about it though!

Oh, here's a nearly gratuitous picture of Mane Groh to end with. Hope you like it.

Mane Groh

Moth Posted by Moth
27th May 2005ce
Edited 24th November 2005ce

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