Like most people in this country, Bob and I learned to ride a bicycle when we were young and fell in love with doing it. Unlike most people, we are still in love with biking. During the years of raising a family, we talked and dreamed of doing a biking trip in Europe. In 1990, when both our daughters were in Europe we set off from northern Spain heading for northern Germany.
One of the most spectacular places along the way was the little French village of Carnac, located on the south coast of Brittany in the Morbihan department in north-western France. Carnac comes from the word CAIRN or pile of stones. It was the home or sacred place of a Neolithic people who left row upon row of huge standing menhir (tall stones).
There are nearly 4000 standing stones. One group has 10-12 alignments that run for several kilometers.
These menhir measure from a few inches high to over 60 feet and weigh up to 350 tons.
Was this a sacred place like Mecca or the Vatican or were these stones a memorial to some loved and departed family member or some powerful revered ancestor or maybe a solstice marker or calendar? That we will probably never know. We do know this was a time of great change, agriculture was developing and animals were being domesticated. We also know that as a population becomes sedentary and societies develop they tend to show their mastery over the environment by creating great monuments and what monuments these are.
Dolman and Tumuli are some other megalithic monuments in and around Carnac. The largest tumulus is 405 feet long and 195 yards wide.
My favorite of these great stone edifices are the dolmans. Dolman or tablestones are the infrastructure of a burial monument. Some of the dolman at Carnac have rock art on the stones which is not only impressive but also very rare. By geochronological dating, the dolman at Carnac are estimated to be 6000 years old thus older than the Egyptian Pyramids in Giza.
One of the most exciting experiences we have had has been just stumbling unto one of these dolman. We did earlier on our biking trip and we had lunch on it's top with a hedgehog ambling along at it's base. Besides having stumbled on dolman in France, we have done so in Portugal, Germany and Korea.
Photos and story courtesy of Bob & Wilma.