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News Items by Spaceship mark

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Current Archaeology Magazine-Stonehenge

Issue 212 of Current Archaeology magazine has an interesting summary of Tim Darvill's work on the bluestone quarry in the Preseli Hills and his theory that their setting at Stonehenge reflects their geographical provenance in Wales.
There's also a nice round up on recent Stonehenge books and an editorial about Durrington.

Carnac Latest Developments

It's been sometime since I reported on the progress of the management of Carnac so here's how it's looking these days.
The green fences are still in place inspite of plans two years ago to replace them with something more sympathetic. Summer access to the Alignements is still limited to the official tours although, as before, there is limited open access in the winter months.
Some efforts have been made to clean up a few sites. A path has been cut through the gorse to Kerluir for example! Also the Petit Menec Alignements appear to have been tidied up a little.
Wooden signposts have been erected to point to some minor sites and also to mark footpaths that avoid walking along the main road in places.
The visitor centre at Kermario is long gone and the Archaeoscope has been converted to a new visitor centre. The plans to move the museum up to Menec seems to have stalled however.
Further afield minor sites continue to become overgrown and signposting and information remains poor.
All in all some improvements have been made but there is still a long way to go.
I will endevour to find out more about any future plans and post them up here.

Workmen Spotted at Carnac

Workmen were spotted two days ago inside the old Archaeoscope building at Carnac. As previously reported the building is scheduled to be converted into a new visitor centre to replace the prefabricated structure at Kermario. The visitor centre is currently housed in a rather large tent in the main Menec carpark.
The three workmen were spotted at around three in the afternoon standing in the foyer of the old Archaeoscope. Although they were not actually doing anything this could be the first real sign that the 'New Project' is being realised. One of the workmen appeared to be smoking a cigarette but this is probably due to the archaic French Workmens Union regulations that state that for every man working at least one man or, where possible, two men should be stood nearby to carry out the essential functions of pointing, smoking and chin stroking.
It is not clear when the new visitor centre will be completed and no work has yet begun on the removal of the fences.

New Carnac Work Begins (Slowly)

Now installed in Carnac for the summer I can report that the 'New Project' has indeed comenced. As far as I can see so far the abominable Archaeoscope (cheers) has been shut down and there are notices in the window announcing that it will reopen as a visitor centre this summer (although I can see little evidence of anything happing there).
Also work has begun to move the road further away from the Menec Alignements. No sign yet of the fences being removed but at least something is happening.

Victory In Sight at Carnac?

It seems after 10 years of constant protests and local opposition the French Government seems set to scrap it's contovertial sceme for the development of the Carnac alignements, dubbed 'Menhirland' by its detractors. The plan was to reroute the road which lies by the Alignements (causing numerous compulsary purchases of farmland and buildings many of which have been in the same families for generations), to build three massive carparks on the main road into Carnac, to charge an expected six to seven pound entry fee and to continue with the policy of no public access within the Alignements themselves.
The project has been fought for many years, not least by the wonderful 'Menhirs Libre' (Free the Menhirs) organisation, who staged a peaceful occupation of the official visitor centre for over two weeks last September. This latest news will be welcomed by thousands of local residents and visitors who have signed the petition against 'Menhirland' over the years. This is how the news was reported in the Morbihan edition of Ouest-France on Saturday last (I take all responsibility for the translation although I believe it to be as correct as it can get, if a little clumsy):

The Minister of Culture Entrusts the Realisation of the Project to the Prefect of Morbihan

Menhirs: A Less Restrictive Project

This was announced by Jean-Jacques Aillagon, the Minister for Culture, in light of his visit las December. It was confirmed on January the 20th in a letter sent to Gilles Bouillhageut, the Prefect. The 'Menhirland' project must be reviewed and a new plan formulated. The commitee charged with the task will reassemble on Feb 28th.

"The planned works (moving roads, contstruction of a carpark, a visitor centre, a cafe...) seem to me to be constraining and involve too many compulsary purchases. I don't feel the project is respectful enough to the region and the environment". The letter addressed to the Prefect, which arrived mid-January, was very explicit. Jean Jacques Aillagon wishes the proposed works at Carnac to be revued and corrected. The new project, the details of which were given to Gilles Bouillhaguet, concerns the Alignements complex. Yesterday morning, in the Prefect's office in Vannes, the representatives of the State and the three local authorities spoke about the great lines. Jacques Bruneau, mayor of Carnac; Aimé Kerguéris, the conseil général; Bernard de Cadenet, the conseil regional and Jean-Paul Kihl, sub-Prefect of Lorient, organised a team composed of the relevant state services.

Many Interested Parties

"The Minister is very insistant that we liase on the project with the various local groups, organisations and residents" detailed the Prefect "The first project was all bound up with Paris, raising a hue and cry with the electorate. It has been a worry for many years, notwithstanding the numerous hostile demonstrations. We were concerned with maintaining public order and making money. Today this decentralised commitee will allow us to find and refine, in our own area, the views on the works. We are wiping the slate clean!" The project will guarantee the presevqtion of an archaeological site which is exceptional but fragile, and preserve its natural cover of vegetation. The mild works, perfectly integrated into the countryside, will be provided for welcoming and informing the public. The existing buildings will be respected, where possible. Public access will be managed and remain free of charge. Only those roadwroks necessary for the equilibrium and balance of the site will be realised. The public will be able to walk through the site on a path created to connect Menéc, Kermario, Kerlescan and Petit Menéc. The fences surrounding the site will be removed and replaced by low hedges.

"The Minister has imposed a strict timescale" explained Gilles Boillhaguet. The first elements of the project must be in order by March 15th. The choice of the manager of works must be made before the summer. The project commitee, composed of the regional department of cultural affairs, the national centre for monuments and the regional department of works and estates, will reconvien on Feb 28th. A consultation commitee will be put in place to ensure the works go to plan and to take the advice of the partners.

So there you go, most amazing is that the awful fences that have surrounded the Alignments for nigh-on 10 years are to come down and that at least some degree of access be permitted.

Now we'll just have to wait and see...
I'll keep yas posted,

Spaceship Mark
Nantes 060203

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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