The Modern Antiquarian. Stone Circles, Ancient Sites, Neolithic Monuments, Ancient Monuments, Prehistoric Sites, Megalithic MysteriesThe Modern Antiquarian


Chambered Cairn


It was time to head down to Larmor Baden village to catch the 3.30 ferry to see Gavrinis (cost in 2005: ten euros).

The ferry takes about a 15-minute chug across calm waters largely used these days for yachting and oyster beds. As we approached the southern end of the island of Gavrinis, I looked left to see the silhouette of some of the stones of the Er Lannic cromlech poking up.

With great anticipation I leapt off the boat and tore up the pathway towards to cairn. No bags, no cameras, no nothing can be taken in to the cairn and each tour is strictly guided and limited in both number and time. I sensed this was going to be frustrating.

Indeed it was. A guide, speaking only French, naturellement, began his talk. Being unable to follow French with any competency, I whizzed on ahead up to the cairn to admire its much restored façade of carefully laid stones, stepping up like a pyramid, with its little –locked – portal behind which held so much promise…

The group approached the cairn's façade and the guide continued his talk. And continued. From what little I could follow he gave a potted history of the neolithique et âge de bronze which was probably quite good, but in my mind I was screaming: 'shut the f**k up and let me inside, you bâtard!'.

Finally after perhaps 20 minutes he let half the group in. WOW. WOW. WOW. Swirls and spirals and waves and triangles and zigzags and lines and spots and bumps and WOW, WOW, WOW! Everywhere were the carvings; not just on one or two, but on practically ALL the wall slabs and even on the riser of the interior step into the slightly wider chamber at the end of the psychedelic passageway.

Imagine what this would have been like when it was painted- as it surely was. Everything else in antiquity was, after all. Think of all the Egyptian tombs and temples, Greco Roman statuary and so on. I could easily imagine the yellow and red ochres, ultramarine blues and umbers, chalks and charcoals swirling around in my mind.

The guide burbled on. I sat down to begin a sketch to try to study and understand some of the wild rhythms before my eyes. But, oh lâ lâ, I was asked to get out. Merde! I felt cheated and robbed. I'd only had ten minutes viewing.
Jane Posted by Jane
3rd August 2007ce
Edited 4th August 2007ce

Comments (1)

Just saw Gavrinis for the first time on Coast - Mark Horton made a brief visit with Guillame Robin and compared the rock art there with chevrons found on Anglesey.

Tucked away in the bit about Carnac about 48 minutes in:

Excellent fieldnotes Jane (and a good grasp of a couple of essential French words).
tjj Posted by tjj
4th August 2010ce
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