Carnac Stones

Carnac Stones

The Carnac stones are a collection of megalithic sites around the village of Carnac, France.

How many?

There were approximately 10,000 stones.

Builders

Erected by the pre-Celtic people of Brittany.

Significance

These are the largest such collection in the world.

Purpose

Alexander Thom, a Scottish engineer, has surveyed many megaliths in Britain and France, believes that Carnac was a huge lunar observatory.

Origin

The stones were erected at some stage during the Neolithic period, probably around 3300 BC and some date to 4500 BC.

Myth
  • A Christian myth says that they were Pagan soldiers in pursuit of Pope Cornelius when he turned them to stone.
  • Local tradition claims that the stones are a Roman Legion turned to stone by Merlin.
Groups

The stone rows have some major groups. Some of them are: –

Menec Alignment

It contains 1099 granite menhirs arranged into 12 one kilometer long lines that originate from a circle of 70 stones.

Menec Alignment
Kermario Alignment

This fan-like layout recurs a little further along to the east in the Kermario (House of the Dead) alignment. It consists of 1029 stones in 10 columns, about 1,300m (4,300 ft) in length.

Kermario Alignment
 Kerlescan Alignment

A smaller group of 555 stones, composed of 13 lines with a total length of about 800m (2,600 ft).

Kerlescan Alignment
Petit-Menec Alignment

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

Petit-Menec Alignment

Tumuli

There are several Tumuli, mounds of earth built up over a grave.

Tumuli

St. Michel

The tumulus of Saint-Michel was constructed between 5000 BC and 3400 BC as 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.

St. Michel

Moustoir

Also known as Er Mané. It is a chamber tomb and has a dolmen at the west end, and two tombs at the east end.

 

Moustoir

Dolmens

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.

Dolmens

The Manio Giant

This is the tallest standing stone in Brittany

The Manio Giant

Excavation
In the 1860s by Scottish antiquary, James Miln carried out first excavation and reported that fewer than 700 of the 3,000 stones were still standing.
Safety

The monuments themselves were listed and purchased by the State at the start of the 20th century to protect them against quarrymen and in recent years, management of the site has also experimented sheep to graze among the stones, in order to keep gorse and other weeds under control.

Facts

The British writer and archeologist Evan Hadingham described them as “one of archeology’s greatest mysteries…it poses as many tantalizing unanswered questions as the pyramids.”

It covers an area of roughly 5 sq miles.

Now about 3,000 stones are left out of possibly 10,000.

There was no mention of the stones of Carnac before the 18th century.

The first known account was by travelers who wrote about them in the 1720s.

The 19th century novelist, Gustave Flaubert wrote, “Carnac has more rubbish written about it than it has standing stones.”

Do You Know???

By one estimate, at least 200 people were needed to drag a 32ton slab on wooden rollers on level ground.

The people who built the stone monuments were farmers who raised cattle and crops on farmsteads which had standing stones or stone rows on them.

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