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> The Megaliths Of Brittany, From www.brittany-bretagne.com/pg/mega
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WizardofOwls 
Posted: 01-Jun-2004, 09:00 PM
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Hi again!

I found some very intersting info about the megaliths to be found in Brittany!
This information was found at

http://www.brittany-bretagne.com/pg/mega.htm

Megaliths: The mystery of the megaliths

Megaliths are great stones (from the Greek mega : great, and lithos : stone) placed by men of the Neolithic period, between 5000 and 2000 B.C. Brittany has the greatest number and the greatest diversity of these stones. More than 3000 of these great stones still lie in the region of Carnac alone. It's not clear who erected these ancient monuments.This mysterious people must have achieved a fairly high degree of civilisation, in order to move and place upright stones which weigh up to 350 tons. The meaning and the origin of these monuments are still unknown. There are two principal types :menhirs and dolmens.

Menhirs
From the breton word meaning long stones, menhirs were positioned in several ways.
Isolated menhirs, generally very high, were placed on a water point, or a peak or near a tomb. The menhir of Kerlaos-en-Plouarzel (Finistère) is 12 metres high, the "Grand Menhir" of Locmariaquer (Morbihan), today broken into five pieces, measures 20.30 metres and weighs about 350 tons.
Grouped menhirs, place in rows or alignments, were the remains of religious monuments, maybe devoted to the worship of the moon or the sun. Some, placed in parallel lines seem to lead towards the the West in a half-circle or cromlech, as at Carnac (Morbihan). Others are place along intersected lines, as at Lagatjar (peninsula of Crozon, Finistère). These lines were probably laid out taking into account some astronomical alignments, within a few degrees, of the cardinal points or of certain risings and settings of the moon and sun, thus enabling the prediction of eclipses.

Dolmens
It is believed that dolmens (from the breton word meaning stone tables) are funerary chambers.
During the neolithic period, the megaliths evolved architecturally speaking. Originally composed of a corridor providing access to a chamber (Barnenez, the Table of the Merchants...), the dolmen showed later a long bent corridor (the "Flat-Stones", the "Rock"), a unique elongated and rectangular chamber (La Roche aux Fées (Fairy-Rock), Mougau) or a V form (Ty-arBoudiged, Liscuis). On the walls of some dolmens (Gavrinis, Table of the Merchants, "Flat-Stones"...) as on certain menhirs (the Great Menhir of Locmariaquer, La Tremblaye), some forms of megalithic art can be seen.
At first, dolmens were built on the surface, then covered with a mound of earth (= tumulus), then dug into the earth or fitted into an artificial cave. Most of them are unobstructed and are found in the open air.
The round tumuli inland are more recent than the tumuli with closed chambers, such as that of Saint-Michel at Carnac, 120 metres long and 12 metres high. They continued to be built until 1000 A.D.

Cairns are tumuli made of drystone walls. The one at Barnenez looks over the bay of Térénez and the estuary of the Morlaix river and dates from 5000 B.C.. Gavrinis, at the entry to the gulf of Morbihan, is not as old as this one.
Inside some tumuli considerable quantities of beautiful objects have been found : polished axes made out of rare rocks, or sets of jewels and superb necklaces in callaïs. The Carnac and Vannes museums display extremely rich collections of these first works of art.
In northern Brittany, covered pathways are frequently found, formed by a double line of erected stones, covered with slabs and sometimes engraved.

The mystery of the megaliths
What was the purpose of the megaliths? Who erected them ?
There are many hypotheses about this subject. As far as the alignments are concerned, not even the slightest little bit of bone has been found, so they cannot be a cemetery. One could imagine each stone welcoming the spirit of the deceased, even it did not have it's bones underneath, and that everytime someone of this civilisation died a menhir was added. But one cannot ignore the fact that every alignment is directed towards a point where the sun rises at one of the important dates of the agricultural year. It is also true that the alignments follow the lines of the earth's currents rigourously. Some scholars see immense astronomy charts in them, others even suggest the coming of a race from another world which would explain the unexplained - how they managed to lift and move stones of such great weight ? In the same breath, one must say that no object has been found which would indicate the existence of extra-terrestrials ! There are specialists who have put forward that these menhirs served as colonnades marking the limits of triumphal pathways through which processions would advance on feast days.

Most of these theories are compatible. The stones could both serve as spiritual cemetery and a place of procession or festivity, most of all on the great dates of the year. It is also quite normal that these edifices are aligned with the sun. After all are not our cathedrals situated in relation to the equinoctial rising sun ?

It still remains difficult to explain the erection of these monuments. At a time when the men only had tools made of flint and horn, it is difficult to imagine that a civilisation could extract enormous stones from the rock. One asks oneself how could people carry them, sometimes for considerable distances, and how did they raise them to the vertical position. Even with ingenuity, levers and a sufficient number of workmen, it seems incredible that they could move stones of a weight of between 20 and 350 tons, and slide them on logs accross several kilometres. It was feasible fro stones of between 20 and 30 tons, but imagine a stone of 350 tons. Wooden levers would have not withstood the strain. The logs would have been driven into the earth une such a weight. And how many men would be needed to move such a monument ? Even if they used oxen, they would have needed at least 500 animals.

A simple comparison that helps to situate the enormity of such an enterprise would be the erection of the obelisk of Louqsor in Paris. It was considered to be a veritable achievement. Yet this monument only weights 220 tons, and was erected with the tools of the 19th century.
Questions can then be asked about the civilisation having erected these stones. Did they have knowledge that we don't have ? How, for example, did they know the exact positions of the earth's currents, underground streams and magnetic flux ? It's a mystery !

Where did this race come from ? One finds megaliths in Scotland, Ireland, Wales, Devon, on the French and the Spanish littoral, in Portugal, and in the valleys of the Garonne, the Rhone and the Rhine and part of that of the Seine, in Jutland and on the shores of Frisia, in Corsica and Sardinia. Scientific research has shown, particularily by the use of Carbon 14 dating, that the oldest monuments were to be found in Brittany. So it is more that probable that the megalithic culture was to be found here and spread out in all directions.

Nevertheless, the problem still remains. Where did the men who settled on the Armorican peninsula come from ? They probably came from the sea, but where did their boats come from ? There are no other monuments elsewhere that precede those of Morbihan and of Finistere in date. It is possible that this civilisation did not have the material conditions or climate necessary for the making of such megaliths. Perhaps life in Brittany enabled them to flourish and develop their creativity and beliefs. They were not unknow to the historians of Antiquity. One called them the Atlantes. Did they then come from "Atlantis", this legendary country which is to be found at the bottom of the sea? The mystery continues. What we do know is that Atlantis, following the documents of the historians of Antiquity, was a maritime country, which had a great length of coasts surrounding numerous islands. In fact, when one thinks about the zone of the megaliths one can see that these characteristics could be related to this zone. What was the capital of Atlantis ? According to Plato, the Atlantis empire was a federation of ten kingdoms. These kingdoms were maritimes states. Their capitals were, without doubt, ten harbours which were all engulfed by the rising of the level of the sea, that is to say ten metres between the beginning and the end of the megalithic period. The legend can be explained !

So, who were they ? They were'nt Egyptian pioneers, nor Phoenicians nor Myceneans. They were good sailors. They knew how to navigate out at sea? They had notions of geometry. They had no doubt other knowledge which we ignore. They were religious. Folklore shows us some of the remnants of their beliefs, and so do the engravings which ornate the menhirs and the dolmens.

In popular tradition dolmens remain the dwelling places of fairys and elves. Their queen the Gwrac?h was at the same time cruel and good. Shee could change her form. She would show herself sometimes as a old womand, or sometimes as a young princess. She kidnapped young babies, and turned men into fish. She was the god of death and at the same time fertility, the Mother God (Déesse Mère). Her attributes were : the axe and the serpent, were engraved on the dolmens. She is herself represented, often in a schematic form.

The worship of the Bull was linked to the adoration of the Mother God (Déesse Mère). This worship has left traces atCarnac. Saint Cornély protector of the parish, protected animals with horns. A certain number of places, known as megalithic, celebrate the pardon of Saint Cornély, or have a procession of oxen. In the surrounding areas, the ox is still sacred. Excavations have confirmed the importance of bull worshipping to the Atlantes. In the tumulus, Saint-Michel, at Carnac, one finds two bovid graves in the buried in the earth.

Unfortunately, we know no more ! The megaliths are far from delivering their secret to us.
One can only find alignments in Brittany. They are greater and greater in number and size in the region between the river of Etel and that of Auray, and in Morbihan, with the greatest density being in Carnac and Erdeven.
It is more than likely that their sacred land was to be found in the region of Carnac-Locmariaquer. There even are some people that say that the Great (Grand) Menhir of Locmariaquer was erected so as to indicate the centre of the world.

A few places to visit

Le Bono
Le Rocher
The site of the "Rocher" is made up of two funerary pieces from different periods : a dolmen buried in a mound (end of the Neolithic period). In addition to this, there are several little circular tombs scattered around the area surrounding the dolmen (Iron Age).

Carnac
The alignments
The famous alignments of Carnac can be divided into four groups : the Ménec, the most western, the alignments of Kermario, the field of menhirs of Kerlescan and the area of Little Ménec, of more modest proportions.

Cléguérec
Covered pathway of Bot-er-Mohed
Originally measuring 27 metres long, it is known as the "Chamber of the Korrigans". Its particularity is that it is partially divided into compartments.

Erdeven
Alignment of Kerzerho
Important megalithic group in Brittany.
Dolmens
Crucuno - Mane - Croch - Mane Braz

Larmor-Baden
Cairn de Gavrinis
The Cairn of Gavrinis is a major monument of the Armorican megaliths. Built in the Neolithic period, it is made up of a great quadrangular mound in drystone in a corridor form. The main themes of megalithic art are to be found on the walls of the dolmen : croziers, polished axes...

Locmariaquer
The "Flat-Stones" (Pierres-Plates)
Dating from the end of the Neolithic, the Flat-Stones are a dolmen bent at a right angle which owes its fame to the quantity and quality of the ornamentations on its walls.
The Great (Grand) Menhir
The Great broken Menhir was a single long piece about twenty metres long and weighing roughly 350 tons. Its fall would appear to date back to the neolithic period. The Merchants Table (Table des Marchands) The dolmen of the Merchants Table shows the usual decorations of the middle part of Neolithic period.

Ploërmel
The covered path of Ville-Bouquet
The monument of Ville-Bouquet now appears as a megalithic chamber, originally surrounded by a cairn. It's a classic model of a grave from the end of the Neolithic period of the covered path

Silfiac "Quenouille du Diable" A menhir more than 7 metres high, in the marshland of Le Moustoir.


--------------------
Slàn agus beannachd,
Allen R. Alderman

'S i Alba tìr mo chridhe. 'S i Gàidhlig cànan m' anama.
Scotland is the land of my heart. Gaelic is the language of my soul.
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WizardofOwls 
Posted: 08-Jun-2004, 06:47 PM
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Here's some more info about Brittany's megaliths.

This is from:
http://www.visit-bretagne.com/lieux/lieux3...tml#broceliande

Les Mégalithes

Brittany is rich in megaliths, these giant stones ?planted? by a little-known prehistoric people. The most impressive site, and the largest of its kind in Europe, is Carnac, in the Morbihan. In the area, there are several lines of stones, some of which contain over 1000 Menhirs (this means ?standing stones? in Breton). The way these gigantic corridors of stone are laid out is not clearly understood. However, we know that they are in line with the sun at the moment of the summer solstice. They were almost certainly used as a way of calculating the right moment to sow seeds.

The religious character of such ?constructions? seems obvious even if it is not understood. You basically just have to look at the stones, and you?re fascinated. Ancient man has shaped the rocks, often more than 5m tall, then pushed them into a standing position, each at a precise point. These corridors nearly all finish in a cromlech, which means a circle of stone.

The dolmens, which are best described as giant tables made with menhirs topped with a horizontal slab of rock, are almost certainly linked to burial grounds. Many of the long corridors end in a cairn, or pile of stones.

These strange temples which seem to have been made by giants or gods fascinated the Celts who came to populate the region of L?Armorique. They integrated peacefully those who had built the stone megaliths, but this mysterious population gradually disappeared as a cultural entity. One can also imagine that the Celts inherited some of their mythology, since many rituals were later performed in these granite temples.

Today, the memory of these rites simply adds to the enchanting mystery of the stones. Try to avoid the main tourist season, and you?ll certainly be able to appreciate the silent beauty of this incomprehensible scene...

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WizardofOwls 
Posted: 27-Jun-2004, 08:03 PM
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Here is some more info I found on the megaliths of Brittany.

This came from:
http://www.pvf.dircon.co.uk/BCH-5B(Archaeology).html

ARCHAEOLOGY IN MORBIHAN

In the southern Morbihan we are in the centre of one of the most important concentrations of magaliths in the world. On the islands and coastlines, in the woods and inland on the moors, these landmarks bearing witness to neolithic civilisations have not yet told all their secrets. The countless standing stones, dolmens and burial mounds (tumulus) teach us much about ancient ways of life, yet still preserve a great deal of their mystery.

Most of the megalithic sites in the Morbihan have been developed or are easily accessible and signposted. Others are still half-hidden in the countryside: it is up to you to discover them. For example, the Cromlec'h (stone circles) in Er Lannic can only be seen from a boat. From the islands in the Gulf to the moorlands of Lanvaux, and close to Carnac or Locmariaquer, these monuments give a sense of eternity to our countryside

A good place to visit ancient stones and yet avoid the crowds at Carnac (where the stones are fenced off anyway) is near Erdeven. From the town take the D781 south and you will literally drive through the lines of stones. In a previous era the stones were simply lifted out of the way to make room for the road. The monument is somewhat neglected, so it is still possible to wander amongst the stones at will. They are known as the Alignment of Kerzehro and there are ten rows of them. There are actually more than a thousand stones here. There are also four massive granite blocks or menhirs, two still standing, two fallen to the ground, and they are known as the Giants of Kerzehro.

Nearer to La Roche-Bernard is that most atmospheric of neolithic monuments at St-Just. The monuments stretch across several kilometers of heathland, and include small lines of quartz standing stones, some from as early as 4500 BC. At the Croix St-Pierre is a further set of magaliths, the tertre tumulaine, where both quartz and schist have been used. Then comes a half-restored dolmen dated to about 5000 BC and used as a collective burial site. The well-preserved flooring has been described as "the Versailles parquet flooring of its age". A number of other interesting stones stand around the area, making it a most satisfying visit. The site also has the advantage of very few tourists!

The largest menhir in the world is by the cemetery at Locmariaquer. It is 67 feet long, but it lies broken in four pieces. The Romans called it the Northern Column. Also near here is the Table des Marchands, a neolithic corridor dolmen with its entrance concealed by a cairn. It is dated to around 3500 BC and is thought to have been a communal tomb. There are some interesting carvings of an axe and an ox-cart.
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celtica 
Posted: 04-Jul-2004, 09:57 AM
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I realised that one of my favourites sites has an english version... laugh.gif laugh.gif
so you just have to click on megaliths, then map, and then you click on the Dolmen you wants to visit smile.gif

http://www.bretagne-celtic.com/an/accueil_an.htm

This post has been edited by celtica on 04-Jul-2004, 03:01 PM


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Que restera-t-il de notre sang mêlé au sel, sans trace dans les mémoires ? Une ultime navigation, trompeuse. Et des souvenirs, illuminés d'embruns. Mais condamnés au silence de la mer... Loïc Finaz.
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The_Spanish_Rover 
Posted: 02-Sep-2004, 06:31 PM
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I spend 5 days round Quiberon, and visit almost every single megalite and dolme in the area this summer...

Leaving away the history of the "stones" I must say that they're a bit dissapointing for me. They try to exploit too much the big concentrations but if you focus on the small ones betwen the forest or by the coast, they're great :-).

Nothing like walking betwen small paths! I was lucky to find somebody with a car to drive me round the area!
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WizardofOwls 
Posted: 28-Sep-2004, 09:36 AM
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Here is some more info I found on the menhirs. It is from:
http://www.brittany-guide.com/welcome.html?menu.htm&0

Megaliths, dolmens & menhirs

The coastal Breton peninsula was inhabited as far back as 600,000 B.C. although very few traces of existence have been discovered. It was not until after the ice age that the neolithic population began to develop, organising animal & crop farming, again around the coastal regions of Brittany. It was during this period that social changes were made, in particular, the worship of the dead. By building dolmens or 'stone tables' to bury their dead, it was thought that the deceased would bring life to the stone.
Several types of dolmen were constructed; chambers of varying sizes, protected by 'cairns' of small stones & accessed by a long stone covered corridor.


In the commune of Cleguerec in Morbihan, there is an excellent example of another type of dolmen, the 'Allée couverte' of Bot-er-Mohed. Originally around 27 meters long & covered with 5 large granite stones, this construction is aligned north-south. Many other types of standing stones or 'menhirs' can be found in & around the forest of Quenecan, near Cleguerec.

Standing stones at Erdeven near Carnac
The most well known sites of standing stones & the biggest in the world are around Carnac & the Gulf of Morbihan on the south coast of Brittany. The site at Carnac alone has nearly 3000 standing stones, some of which weigh up to 100 tons each, moving them must have proved a mammoth feat without the aid of machinery, suggesting these early inhabitants had a well organised society. The Musée de Préhistoire at Carnac now has multimedia presentations, examples & presentations of excavations around Carnac.
There are thousands of megaliths around Brittany, just look for the symbol on tourist maps.

Places to visit:-

Around Carnac,
Musée de Préhistoire
The Alignments de Menec & The Alignments of Kermario on the D 196
The Tumulus de St Michel just off the D 781 north of La Trinite
Ille aux Moines in the Gulf de Morbihan
Erdeven, Alignments de Kerzerho on the 781 between Auray & Belz.
Cleguerec, Bot-er-Mohed, follow the signs from Cleguerec
Penmarch & Pont l'Abbe, on the D785
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