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



Chambered Cairn

<b>Barnenez</b>Posted by MothImage © Tim Clark
Latitude:48° 40' 3.55" N
Longitude:   3° 51' 30.86" W

Added by Jane

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I wanted to return to the great cairn of Barnenez because when we visited 4 years ago it was pouring with rain. Last week when we went it was sunny and dry – perfect!

Because it's a big important monument with a visitor centre and a perimeter fence you have to pay a fee to get in. But it was Monday. And it was closed. Drat and double drat! It was 50miles from where we were staying and I didn't want to drive all that way again. There was nothing for it but to try to find a way through the fence. (Don't try this at home, kids!)

So we walked up the lane a bit and made our way through the fields inspecting the high barbed wire perimeter fence. It looked impenetrable. Another field. Another length of fence. Right around the back of the monument, three fields away from the visitor centre we found a place under some trees where the fence had already been breached, presumably by other Monday visitors. So we scrambled through the dense low trees and got in! It felt a bit naughty and I'd much rather have paid my 5euros to be honest.

We walked around the vast monument admiring its wonderful layers, chambers and superb stonework, revelling in the luxury of seeing in sunlight, the shadows revealing it bulk even more. To me, of all Brittany's megalithic treasures, Barnenez is the greatest jewel of all.
Jane Posted by Jane
15th October 2009ce
Edited 15th October 2009ce

Do you know the way to Barnenez?
I've never been so
I may go wrong and lose my way
Do you know the way to Barnenez?
I'm going there to find a great big cairn in Barnenez
Allee couverts and some dolmens
See a whole bunch if you've got a car
In an hour, maybe two, you'll get quite far
Don't go too fast or they'll quickly pass
And all the stones are lying there amid the gorse for you to find
I've got lots of photos from Barnenez
Wo oh oh-oh, oh-oh oh-oh
Can't wait to get back to Barnenez
Wo oh oh-oh, oh-oh oh-oh
Do you know the way to Barnenez?

Côtes du Nord on a wild, wet Wednesday. Sane people do not go out in weather such as we experienced that day: grey skies and steady rain coming in at a slant with the occasional hailstorm. Sane people especially do not take expensive digital SLR cameras outside in these conditions. Welcome to the madhouse. Welcome to Barnenez, just 40 miles west from our cottage up on the north coast of Brittany.

Barnenez will make you gasp in wonder.

It's so big and grand, this one has a visitor centre and mighty glad of it we were, too, as a shelter from the storm. 75metres long and with twelve burial chambers within its stony step-pyramid mound this is a beast and reminded me strongly of an out-size Camster grey cairn combined with Egypt's Saqqara pyramid.

During its excavation and reconstruction, a huge chunk was left missing deliberately to expose the manner of construction.

Four of the burial chambers are open to visitors the others are walled up. Each chamber has a different manner of construction – corbelled vaulting, dolmen-type chamber, side slabs only, etc. Inside the visitor centre are some of the carved, decorated stones found within the cairn which are very intriguing – one looks like a sheaf of corn. There are also some cracking photographs of the cairn before, during and after its excavation and examples of the finds – beads, pottery, axes – discovered there.

We drove back east from Barnenez towards Lannion - there are lots of sites to see round here including many alleé couverts and menhirs.
Jane Posted by Jane
30th July 2007ce