Megalitter i Frankrig

De ældste megalitter kendes fra Bretagne i Nordfrankrig fra ca. 4000 f.Kr. Her kaldes de maenhir (= "lang sten").

Stenkulæturen har sit udspring her.


Bretagnes mange stendysser og mærkelige opretstående bautasten (menhirs), hvoraf der alene i Carnacområdet findes 3000, viser, at området har været centrum for en omfattende stenaldercivilisation med stor teknisk kunnen — nogle sten vejer 350 t — og med betydelige resurser til disposition for høvdinge og præsteskab.

Ménec cromlech

Ménec cromlech Cromlech in Morbihan The Cromlec de Menec marks the westernmost extent of the Carnac Allignments. It basically starts on the road that separates it from the allignments, goes through a private garden, through the end of the village and ends in a creperie.

The small town of Carnac in southern Brittany is world-famous for the long rows of standing stones stretching over a mile or so in a north-easterly direction to the north of the town. Much plundered in centuries past for stone and generally getting in the way of earlier generations, these fabulous relics gained greater respect over the 20th century, and are now under State protection.


Finding your way about Nothing can really prepare you for the sight. While stone rows are known elsewhere, such as the Merrivale stone rows in Dartmoor, England, they just aren't on the stupendous scale seen at Carnac. The area is also surrounded by a wealth of menhirs, dolmens, passage graves, making the town well worth a visit if you're interested in megalithic sites. Carnac is also blessed with an excellent beach and the Quiberon peninsula nearby caters for all sorts of sports like wind-surfing and sailing. Take a look at the staying there section for more information as to where to stay, relative to the stones and other amenities.

If actually getting to the stones is important for you then you might want to know that (at 2001/2002) low season was October 1st to April 1st. It's worth calling the Carnac Tourist Office what the current situation is here as it varies year to year.

To see the alignments you can pick up a free map from the tourist office which shows the alignments and local roads. That's all you need to locate the Carnac alignments and about a dozen of the major local sites. However, if you are looking for more detail check out the navigation page for what French IGN (equivalent of the Ordnance Survey in the UK) maps to get, and how to get them outside France.

Tour of the sites near Carnac

Le Ménec It makes sense to start with the alignments, of course, which takes between half a day and a day depending on your pace. See the map below for a general overview of the alignments. Unfortunately access is restricted, particularly in the summer, to reduce erosion of the site. Most people drive out of town, following the sign to the alignments which takes them to the massive car park south of the Le Ménec alignments. The panorama above is from there, though you have to go little bit further to see them from that angle. It's worth trying to do this earlier in the day, as it gets very popular since it is the closest to town and the place most people go if they want a quick look-see of what all this fuss about alignments is about before getting on with the rest of their activities.

If you are going to drive along the alignments there's something to be said for coming from north-east to south west instead - you're on the right side of the road as the alignments, and the two smaller car parks at Kerlescan and Kermario are handy right hand turns after the bend rather than awkward left-hand turns across the road before the bends...

Carnac-plage is into the cycle hire business in a big way, from standard mountain bikes to big all-family affairs which people seem to have great fun with. The higher point of view of a bike (above the infernal fence!) and the more leisurely pace plus being able to stop where you fancy has a lot going for it. since so much is within three or four miles of the town.

Kermario Assuming you carry on the standard route, carry on NE to Kerabus (just after you cross the main road, and this one is busy, being the main Carnac to Auray highway and the way most long-distance traffic comes into the town). There's no formal parking, but the lie of the land is nice and you can look over the smaller alignments there.

Kermario is your next stop, with a large-ish visitor car-park on the left just as the road turns to the right, which is a dodgy manoeuvre for UK visitors as the French drive on the right. Old-timers will recall the massive wooden platform where you could look over the alignments but all that has gone now, and there is an information building behind the stones. That does mean you get a better view of Kermario allée couverte, nestling at the corner of this alignment. A nice touch is they have placed a path to an old mill in the Kermario alignments at the north-eastern half which you can climb and get a better overview. Parking there is bad - you're better off walking from Kermario car park. On a bike, of course, there's no problem.


Next stop is Kerlescan - basically if you get to see the alignments from your car you've gone too far, as the small car park is just before the horse riding school, on your left before a bend to the left. It's also worth taking the forest trail for 500 yards to say hello to the Géant du Manio. Take the largest path going past the horse grazing fields, and the Géant is signposted on a turning west. It is the largest standing menhir in the area, 6.5 m high, and nearby is a rectangular-ish enclosure of stone, the Quadrilateral.

Petit Ménec Most visitors think they're done with the alignments at this stage, though if the light is right the enchanting stones in the forest of Petit Ménec are a magical addition to the tour. Here, you come across moss-grown rows of menhirs on the forest floor.

Because the paths criss-cross the forest at various angles, an illusion makes them appear to be laid out in short rows seemingly at random, but they do follow a gentle curve WSW to ENE.

Left: a row of moss-covered menhirs in the forest at Petit Ménec

History Current thinking is that the alignments were constructed incrementally, with succeeding generations adding to the alignments over the centuries. Dating the rows is vexatious, since little organic matter is available. Burl indicates [41] about 3300 BC, with an error of several hundred years.

Restoration - James Miln and Zacharie le Rouzic

Though it is romantic to ponder the triumph of Neolithic engineering holding sway, keeping the thousands of stones upright across five thousand years of weather, some more recent help was needed. Every megalithic site on this grand scale inspires, and just as Avebury inspired Aubrey, Stukely and Keiller, so Carnac inspired its recent heroes. First was the Scottish antiquarian, James Miln. He excavated many sites at Carnac - not just the stones but also the Roman camps and antiquities. Yet it was the stones that were old when the Romans camped at Carnac inspired him - is tempted to ask how it is that the Romans, masters of the world, came and disappeared, whilst the race of the rude constructors still remains..."

Miln hired a local boy, Zacharie Le Rouzic to carry his materials with which he drew the results of his excavations. Through assisting Miln with his work, le Rouzic gained a passion for the Carnac alignments and archaeology, and in the 1930s le Rouzic re-erected many of the fallen stones, placing them as true to the original location as he could. Ever a careful worker, le Rouzic indicated which stones had been reset with a tiny plug of pink cement at the base, so that future workers would not be confused between the restored and the original.

Miln died in 1881, leaving the results of his work to the town of Carnac, and his brother established the James Miln Museum there. Likewise, Le Rouzic left his collection to the town, and these artifacts form the basis of the Carnac museum of prehistory in the town centre, which is well worth a visit (English speaking visitors will find it worth borrowing the folder with the English translation of the captions of the exhibits).

Alexander Thom

In 1969 Alexander Thom was invited to prepare a detailed survey of the Carnac alignments. Since they consist of more than 3000 menhirs spread over a distance of about 2½ miles this was no small undertaking. The father-son team of Alexander and Archie Thom worked from 1970 to 1974, drafting highly detailed 1:1000 plans of the alignments. These showed that what to the casual eye look like parallel rows stretching into the distance have random fluctuations in the lines of stones. The result, perhaps, of the gradual accumulation of the site as successive generation added to the work of their forebears.

The Carnac stones are an exceptionally dense collection of megalithic sites around the French village of Carnac, in Brittany, consisting of alignments, dolmens, tumuli and single menhirs. The more than 3,000 prehistoric standing stones were hewn from local rock and erected by the pre-Celtic people of Brittany, and are the largest such collection in the world. Local tradition claims that the reason they stand in such perfectly straight lines is that they are a Roman legion turned to stone by Merlin —Brittany has its own local versions of the Arthurian cycle. A Christian legend associated with the stones held that they were pagan soldiers in pursuit of Pope Cornelius when he turned them to stone.[1][2]

Most of the stones are within the French commune of Carnac, but some to the east are within La Trinité-sur-Mer.

The stones were erected at some stage during the Neolithic period, probably around 3300 BC, but some may date to as old as 4500 BC.[3]

In recent centuries, many of the sites have been neglected, with reports of dolmens being used as sheep shelters, chicken sheds or even ovens.[4] Even more commonly, stones have been removed to make way for roads, or as building materials. The continuing management of the sites remains a controversial topic.

There are three major groups of stone rows — Ménec, Kermario and Kerlescan — which may have once formed a single group, but have been split up as stones were removed for other purposes.[5]

Stones in the Ménec alignment

Stones in the Kermario alignment

Ménec alignments:

Ménec alignmentEleven converging rows of menhirs stretching for 1,165 metres, by 100 metres wide. There is what Alexander Thom considered to be the remains of stone circles at either end. According to the tourist office there is a "cromlech containing 71 stone blocks" at the western end and a very ruined cromlech at the eastern end. The largest stones, around four metres high, are at the wider, western end; the stones then become as small as 0.6 metres high along the length of the alignment before growing in height again toward the extreme eastern end.

Kermario alignment

Kermario (“House of the Dead?)[6] alignment:

This fan-like layout recurs a little further along to the east in the Kermario alignment. It consists of 1029 stones[7] in ten columns, about 1,300 metres in length.[5] A stone circle to the east end, where the stones are shorter, was revealed by aerial photography.[8]

Kerlescan alignment

Kerlescan alignments:

A smaller group of 555 stones, further to the east of the other two sites. It is composed of 13 lines with a total length of about 800 metres[5], ranging in height from 80 cm to 4 metres[9]. At the extreme west, where the stones are tallest, there is a stone circle which has 39 stones. There may also be another stone circle to the north.[10]

Petit-Ménec alignments:

A much smaller group, further east again of Kerlescan, falling within the commune of La Trinité-sur-Mer. These are now set in woods, and most are covered with moss and ivy.[11]


There are several tumuli, mounds of earth built up over a grave. In this area, they generally feature a passage leading to a central chamber which once held neolithic artefacts.

Tumulus of Saint-MichelSaint-Michel

The tumulus of Saint-Michel was constructed between 5000 BC and 3400 BC. At its base it is 125 m by 60 m, and is 12 m high. It required 35,000 m³ of stone and earth. Its function was the same as that of the pyramids of Egypt: a tomb for the members of the ruling class. It contained various funerary objects, such as 15 stone chests, pottery, jewellery, most of which are currently held by the Museum of Prehistory of Carnac.[12]. It was excavated in 1862 by René Galles with a series of vertical pits, digging down 8 metres. Le Rouzic also excavated it between 1900 and 1907 discovering the tomb and the stone chests.[13] A chapel was built on top in 1663 but was rebuilt in 1813, before being destroyed in 1923. The current building is an identical reconstruction of the 1663 chapel, built in 1926. Moustoir 47°36'43?N 3°03'39?W? / ?47.6119°N 3.0608°W? / 47.6119; -3.0608[14] Also known as Er Mané, it is a chamber tomb 85 m long, 35 m wide, and 5 m high. It has a dolmen at the west end, and two tombs at the east end.[12] A small menhir, approximately 3m high, is nearby.

The dolmen Er-Roc'h-Feutet. An inscription next to every standing stone formation proclaims ownership by the state of France.


There are several dolmens scattered around the area. These dolmens are generally considered to have been tombs, constructed with several large stones supporting a "capstone", then buried under a mound of earth. In many cases, the mound is no longer present, sometimes due to archeological excavation, and only the large stones remain, in various states of ruin. Er-Roc'h-Feutet

North, near the Chapelle de La Madelaine. Has a completely covered roof. La Madelaine 47°37'15?N 3°02'54?W? / ?47.6208°N 3.0482°W? / 47.6208; -3.0482[4] A large dolmen measuring 12 metres by 5 metres, with a 9 metre-long broken capstone.[4]It is named after the nearby Chapelle de La Madelaine, which is still used.


A rare dolmen still covered by its original cairn. South of the Kermario alignments, it is 25–30 metres wide, 5 metres high, and has a small menhir on top. Previously surrounded by a circle of small menhirs 4 metres out[13], the main passage is 6.5 metres long and leads to a large chamber where numerous artifacts were found, including axes, pearls, arrow heads and pottery. It was constructed around 4600 BC and used for approximately 3,000 years.[13]

Mané Brizil


A roughly rectangular mound, with only one capstone remaining. It is aligned east-to-west, with a passage entrance to the south.[10]


On a small hill, has two separate chambers.

The Manio "Giant".Mané-Kerioned (Pixies' mound or Grotte de Grionnec[13])

A group of three dolmens with layout unique in Brittany [13], once covered by a tumulus. Whereas most groups of dolmens are parallel, these are arranged in a horse shoe. The largest of the three is at the east, 11 metres long.[12] Crucuno

A "classic" dolmen, with a 40 tonne, 7.6 metre tablestone resting on pillars roughly 1.8 metres high. Prior to 1900, it was connected by a passage making it 24 metres long.[13]

Other formations

The Manio quadrilateral arrangement.There are some individual menhirs and at least one other formation which do not fit into the above categories.

Manio quadrilateral

An arrangement of stones to form the perimeter of a large rectangle. Originally a "tertre tumulus" with a central mound, it is 37 metres long, and aligned to east of northeast. The quadrilateral is 10 metres wide to the east, but only 7 metres wide at the west. [15] Manio giant 47°36'12?N 3°03'22?W? / ?47.6034°N 3.056°W? / 47.6034; -3.056[16] Near the quadrilateral is a single massive menhir, now known as the "Giant". Over 6.5 metres (21.3 feet) tall, it was re-erected around 1900 by Zacharie Le Rouzic[13], and overlooks the nearby Kerlescan alignment. [17]

Large upright in the Ménec alignment

Stones in the Ménec alignment

Excavation and analysis

From the 1720s various people showed increasing interest in these features.[18] In 1796, for example, La Tour d'Auvergne attributed them to druidic gatherings.[13] In 1805, A. Maudet de Penhoët claimed they represented stars in the sky.[13] However, there still is a somewhat surprising lack of research done on the origins or purpose of the stones. Miln and Le Rouzic

The first extensive excavation was performed in the 1860s by Scottish antiquary James Miln (1819–1881), who reported that fewer than 700 of the 3,000 stones were still standing.[19] Towards 1875, Miln engaged a local boy, Zacharie Le Rouzic (1864–1939), as his assistant, and Zacharie learnt archaeology on the job. After Miln's death, he left the results of his excavations to the town of Carnac, and the James Miln Museum was established there by his brother Robert to house the artefacts. Zacharie became the director of the Museum and although self-taught, became an internationally recognised expert on megaliths in the region. He too left the results of his work to the town, and the museum is now named Le Musée de Préhistoire James Miln – Zacharie le Rouzic.[20][21]

Other theories

The Ménec alignments of some 1100 stones in 11 columns.In 1887, H. de Cleuziou argued for a connection between the rows of stones and the directions of sunsets at the solstices.[13]

Among more recent studies, Alexander Thom worked with his son Archie from 1970 to 1974 to carry out a detailed survey of the Carnac alignments, and produced a series of papers on the astronomical alignments of the stones as well as statistical analysis supporting his concept of the megalithic yard.[20][22]

Studies by Pierre Méreaux, who spent 30 years researching the stones in field studies, are well known.[23] He generally rejects the "cult of the dead", arguing that the dolmens were instead perhaps used as primitive seismic instruments, Brittany being the most seismically-active area of France.[24] In particular, he argues controversially that Brittany would have been even more seismically active back then, due to the influx of water with the retreating ice. He also posits correlations between the location and orientation of menhirs, and those of seismic fault lines. He also goes so far as to claim that the balancing of large stones on delicate points would act as an effective earthquake detector: "the heavy tables of these monuments with their dizzying overhangs must have devilishly balanced on their three feet, at the slightest shock. As an earthquake observation station, we could not do better today."[25]

There are also general theories on the use of the stones as astronomical observatories, as has been claimed for Stonehenge. According to one such theory, the massive menhir at nearby Locmariaquer was linked to the alignments for such a purpose[9].









Externe referencer

For yderliger information, prøv at se på følgende hjemmesider:

The megalithic tombs of France

Carnac Stones, Brittany

Astronomical overview of megalithic sites in France

Category:Dolmens in Bretagne

Tumulus of Bougon

Le Grand Menhir Brisée

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