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Showing 1-20 of 27 fieldnotes. Most recent first | Next 20

Kerlud (Dolmen / Quoit / Cromlech)

Kerlud dolmen is all that remains of a once great Carnac-Mound. Burl believes that the dolmen itself was probably a later insertion.
The mound, once comparable to Mane Lud or Mane Er Hroek, was dismantled and used to build the hamlet that also bears the name Kerlud.

Dolmen et Menhir de Carnac-Plage (Dolmen / Quoit / Cromlech)

In the heart of Carnac-Plage it is uncertain if this is truly a prehistoric monument. Burl does not include it in 'Megalithic Brittany'. However it is included in Gabriel Le Cam's monumental 'Le Guide de Megalithes de Morbihan', he calls them:

"A dolmen and menhir that are certainly not in their original location"

Although the dolmen is super-sterotypical but not, on closer inspection, much like anything else around here, the stones themselves have an air of 'ancientness' and do not have the quarry marks and boreholes of many recently erected megaliths.
It could just be that these stones once formed an ancient monument, although whether this was their form is open to debate...

Menhir du Boivre (Standing Stone / Menhir)

So a day traipsing around non-descript menhirs and ruined dolmens can have its rewards after all. And this is my reward. This magnificent dual-sex idol stone, massive and alone, in an unsignposted field.
Around 4m high the SW face is a perect goddess figure yet the NW is the slanting priapic phallus of all time. There is some evidence that the stones was shaped and even if not tis a well selected and beautiful stone.
These little (or massive actually) surprises are the reward for all our hard work. REAL DISCOVERIES!

Dolmen de la Briordais (Dolmen / Quoit / Cromlech)

Well the map said this was destroyed and indeed it is. Quite a bugger to find too with my two incompatibly scaled maps. In many ways though it's still worth a visit.
Set on slightly higher ground and hence, this being the Norfolk of France, commanding views of all around. The dolmen is now a low mound around 11m long by 5m wide. A number of large stones lie upon and within this mound including at least one former capstone. The others may be the collapsed walls; although for all I can tell there may still be a chamber within.
I am realizing that this area may not be the megalithic metropolis it appears at first glance on a map but these small, sadly ruined, sites have a personal air lacking at some more impressive sites. And it feels more like real antiquarianism hunting them out too!
The mound is orientated around 340°-160°.

Menhir du Menhir (Standing Stone / Menhir)

Worthy of a visit for its name alone this 2m cream granite pillar is nestled at the end of a short alley off a busy dual carriageway. In many ways it is nothing special in a pointy kind of way but I am visiting everything so…

Menhir de Plessis-Gamat (Standing Stone / Menhir)

At last a site I can access and rather pleasant it is too. This two and a half metre menhir sits in short grass at the edge of a field. Wide and tall but thin across in a playing card kind of way and the stone is of creamy white quartz rich granite.
One can see on the south face how the menhir was split from the bedrock along a quartz vein as a layer of smooth quartz covers the surface.
I think that I'll start calling these 'Barbamama' stones after the blobby cartoon wife of Babapapa. Cos that's what they look like really.
The land around is very flat, although we are near a water tower, and to the north is the vast sprawl of the port of St.Nazaire.
The long axis of the stone is orientated 220°-040°.

Menhir des Cassis (Standing Stone / Menhir)

AAAGGHH! More private property! And a lovely tapering lozenge menhir this is too. Maybe 3m+ but I can't get to it at all. How frustrating this is becoming.

Menhir de Pierre Bonde (Standing Stone / Menhir)

The 'Bounding Stone' (I believe) is also private AND in the middle of a flooded water meadow! Ho hum…well these sites are not even marked on the 1:100,000 scale map so maybe the better known sites will be easier. The menhir appears to be a largish lozenge of about 2m but unfortunately I can say no more…

Menhir de Mégerie (Standing Stone / Menhir)

Another chunky menhir guarded by, not just a fence, but cows too! Could be on a mound or it could just be the pricklys that the cows don't want to eat. NEXT!

Menhirs des Pierres Blanches (Standing Stone / Menhir)

There are in fact two menhirs here. The first small, from which a signpost rises, and the second larger but fallen, to the west.
This is curious megalith country, very flat and in close proximity to the Loire River. Indeed I've just seen the vast bulk of the Queen Mary 2 in St.Nazaire ship works, where it is being built.
Why such a seemingly insignificant pair of menhirs warrant signposting from the main road I'm not sure, but if I must be the modern antiquarian then completion rules.

Dolmen des Rossignols (Dolmen / Quoit / Cromlech)

Dolmen des Rossignols
'It's a suburban dolmen!'
At last something unique and interesting. The dolmen sits below ground level in a large crater in an empty plot amongst an estate of bungalows. I t would seem likely that the dolmen was discovered whilst the foundations for another such bungalow were being dug. If this were true it would explain the row of holes connected by a crack along the top of the capstone. It would appear that an attempt was made to split the capstone before (hopefully before) its significance was realized.
And what a capstone! A good 3m by 4m and about 70cm thick at the edges this is a monster and the only capstone surviving, is ever there were more. It is actually difficult to ascertain where the original entrance was as it was either blocked off in prehistory or some of the uprights were placed wrongly during restoration. Nonetheless this is a very important and impressive dolmen.
The chamber inside is now very low but this could be due to the infill of sandy soil more than anything else, and the capstone appears to be supported by a combination of corbelling and orthostats.
Also, whilst here, I finally managed a break a rule by eating my lunch while blissfully unaware of the 'no picnics' sign, hurray!
The rocks appear to be a mixture of schist and granite and one wonders how far they were dragged to this sandy spot…

Tumulus de Crucuny (Tumulus (France and Brittany))

I have visited Crucuny a number of times over the years. It is an impressive mound and I used to like catching out of the corner of my eye from the road to Carnac.
It is pot-luck as to whether you find it covered in six foot high vegetation or shaved clean by the council's rather aggressive looking lawnmower.
I will, at some point, work out how many of these Grand Tumuli were intervisible in a landscape with less trees...

Tumulus de Kercado (Tumulus (France and Brittany))

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.

Alignements de Vieux Moulin


Almost a year and a half after I came here with Julian Cope I have returned to Vieux Moulin. I'd forgotten just how effective the illusion the stones create is. As one approaches one is sure that there are four stones n this short, solitary row. Only when the approach angle changes slightly can one see that in fact there are six.

I remain unconvinced by Aubrey Burl's 'slight curve' and it seems to me this was only ever as it is now. These shortish stone rows are indeed an riddle. They enclose no space, they do not seem precise enough to facilitate astronomical observations, so what were they for? I think the clue may lie in the fact that many of these rows are (relatively) isolated and away from large ritual centres. In that one can read that, like so many of the smaller dolmens, these were monuments for a small community. The village chapel for day to day use away from the great cathedral of Carnac.

It almost seems that one can try to read to much into these type of monuments, trying to find reason or purpose, in the end I think it goes back to the mountaineer's answer; why did they put up the stones? Because they were there…

Dolmen de Mané Croc'h (Chambered Tomb)


I came here for two reasons, firstly because I have not been here for two years and on that occasion I took no notes and secondly to try and find the second dolmen claimed to be to the north of here. I have already failed on the second count as I traipsed around much high gorse and heather and found nothing.
So now to Mane Croch, I now remember why I liked this place so much the last time and how my photos did it no justice. A long passage leads to a chamber that it transepted into four. The stones are all of a lovely chunky local granite. No mound covers this dolmen now and there is no capstone over the centre of the four chambers. It could be that this part of the roof was corbelled and that this site was a mixture of those two construction methods, both common in the area. In fact at nearby Mané Braz the roof is formed by a sort of 'mega-corbelling'.
The layout of this monument is clearly similar to UK sites such as West Kennet long barrow and I like to believe that the dolmens of the Carnac area were a direct influence on those of southern England.

Dolmen de Kermarquer (Burial Chamber)

Hidden in the woods between Kerlescan and La Trinite this is one of those little treats for the dedicated hunter. Remember the trick is to seek out the 'Camping Interdit' signs and hope for the best. This is one of the reasons to get a good map and go hunting, you can guarantee no one will have been there for ages so you can get a real 'I'm an explorer' experience.

Table des Marchants (Chambered Cairn)

The most popular misconception about how this site gets its name is that it was knowns as 'The Merchant's Table'. In fact its name comes from the former land owners, whose name was Marchant.
These days the Table des Marchants is covered by a wholly reconstructed cairn, which serves not only to protect the carvings within but also to demonstrate how many of the, now uncovered, local dolmens would have originally looked. Although the accuracy of this reconstruction cannot be guaranteed, it was based on detailed study of the underlying archaeology.
Within the mound the fabulous rear upright stone is decorated with many crooks, but in many ways the main attraction is the capstone. For here one can see a partial carving of two horned beasts. This capstone was once a section of a large carved menhir, the tip of which now covers the Er-Grah mound next door. However it was only realised fairly recently that the third section is now the main capstone of the Gavrinis mound, a few kilometres away on an island in the Gulf of Morbihan. This was one of the discoveries which lead to the theory of older menhirs being destroyed and used in passage-gave construction.
The Table des Marchants forms a complex with the Grand Menhir Brise and the Er- Grah mound, but many of Locamariaquer's other sites are in close proximity.

Tumulus de Dissignac (Tumulus (France and Brittany))

23rd April 2003

I visited Dissignac with my sister back at the beginning of March but heavy rain made any fieldwork or even general hanging quite impossible. Today there is only wispy cloud in the sky and I can write these notes lying on the grass in front of the tumulus.
Dissignac is one of those marvelously restored tumuli that looks like nothing less than a huge megalithic flying saucer, its stepped facings of drystone walling reflecting successive retaining walls within.
Two passages are sunk into the mound so when one sees a photo it is almost as if one is supposed to cross ones eyes to get a 3-D effect! These 'stereo dolmens' are numerous in southeast france but not so common up here. So Dissignac is worth a visit if only to witness its mutant two holed attack.
A small visitor centre (closed while I was here) suggests this place can get quite busy, even so, two days after Easter, with the kids off school, I am given Dissignac to myself.

Menhir du Champ de Cesar (Standing Stone / Menhir)

01 May 2003

In the beautifully manicured 'Parc de Roi de Menhirs' (Park of the King of Menhirs) and outside the townhall of Arville stands the massive Menhir du Champ de César. At eight metres seventy it is the tallest menhir in the Vendée and comes at you in a classic Champ Dolent/Manio kind of way. It was once one of an alignment of three but the other two were sadly removed. A local hotel still bears the name 'Auberge des Trois Pilliers'.
These massive menhirs are still such a mystery, although as part of an alignment it could at least have some astronomical significance.
Although it is difficult to tell in this built up area it is likely that the menhir stands on slightly higher ground and was maybe once intervisible with other sites in the area…

Tumulus de Rocher (Tumulus (France and Brittany))


This Kercado sized tumulus outside the village of Le Bono is fascinating for a number of reasons. The great mound itself covers a very long passage of orthostats and drystone which bends through almost 90degrees partway along. This then opens out into a chamber with almost enough room to stand. The faint remains of carvings can be seen along the passage including a goddess figurine. This chamber, if required, could be pitch black at any time of day.
Inspite of the condensation on the stones themselves the floor in here is remarkably dry.
What is also fascinating though is the surroundings. Around the tumulus are a number of burial mounds dated to the Iron Age. However they are very much like megalithic structures, one still having, what Aubrey Burl describes as, a small dolmen like structure at its centre. South of the tumulus are a number of fantastic natural rock outcrops, maybe part shaped by man.
Clearly this area was sacred for a long time. From the time before the megaliths to a time when they had long since ceased to be constructed. Were the pine trees not here there would be views out to the Gulf of Morbihan. But how did that area look back then when sea levels meant it was no sea at all…
Showing 1-20 of 27 fieldnotes. Most recent first | Next 20

Name: Spaceship Mark Williamson
Born: 1976CE
Lives: Europe
Specialist Subject: Carnac and its environs
Favorite UK site: Castlerigg
Favourite European site: Tumulus de Kercado, Carnac

I've been visiting megalithic sites since about 1990 when I went to Castlerigg and inbetwen getting mashed and falling over I realised what a fantastic place it was. I've spent four summers working in Carnac and hope to return there in the summer of 2004 to finish the fieldwork for the epic 'Fields of Stone: an Exploration of Megalithic Carnac'.
Looking forward to The Megalithic European so this site can be expanded into Europe and I can climb the contributor post chart.

"Knowledge is an inexpensive commodity but its possession is priceless"
Dennis Thompson, the MC5

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