Megalithic Menhir Madness ?

Our first visit to the megalithic spectacular that is Carnac, the largest megalithic site in the world, in southern Brittany.

There are literally thousands of stone monuments (>3,000 in the Carnac area alone) : Dolmens; Burial Mounds; Standing stones & vast alignments – spread over 4 square kilometers.

Indeed Carnac is only apart of the vast ‘stone forest’ that pervades a lot of Brittany.

Within the Carnac environs they are located across 3 main sites – Le Ménec, Kermario, Kerlascan – and a fourth much smaller site Le Petit Ménec. It is believed that the 4 sites were once part of a single and gigantic group.

We only had time to visit Le Ménec and that still took nearly a whole day to cover with its 11 converging rows of 1,100 menhirs spread across 1km. Intriguingly the megaliths’ height decreases from west to east in each site.

Very little of the pre-Celtic tribes who erected them between 6000BC and 2000BC is known and so the purpose of these megaliths is not really understood.

The traditional belief, until recent years, was that they were a huge necropolis and that each stone represented a leader.

The new school of researchers, however, believes that the alignments were not linked to the cult of the dead but were part of a gigantic system of astronomical tools, sort of ‘observatories’ that predicted and recorded planets movements (the megaliths are indeed aligned with the solstices sunsets.)

So in the end the “experts” can’t really agree on what exact purpose they served – although those other famous Bretons Asterix and Obelix may have the answer for us 🙂 …