Brittany or how it was known in antiquity, the Armorican peninsula, is famed for its numerous Neolithic monuments. Most of the great burial chambers here predate the Egyptian pyramids by a long time.
They consisted of a dolmen or stone chamber, for the bodies, covered by a tumulus, an earth mound.
As to the many countless Neolithic menhirs, the standing stones for which the region is celebrated, they actually remain a riddle even for the scholars.
Some 12,000 years ago as the last ice age receded, nomadic people crossed Armorica. The adoption of agriculture revolutionised life, enabling groups to put down some roots. The special character and appeal of Brittany attracted many Neolithic families. Communities began to settle, crafts developed, and religion and ritual took off. The Neolithic civilisation have lasted an impressive 3,00 years from the 5th to the 2nd millennium BC.
Carnac on Brittany’s south coast is by far the region’s most famous Neolithic sight, with its beautiful rows of standing stones around the neighbouring Locmariaquer, Gulf of Morbihan and Gavrinis, boast amazing monuments too.
In central Brittany, St. Just with its menhir alignments counts as the most impressive Neolithic sight, closely followed by La Roche aux Fees, a dolmen said in legend to have been made by fairies none the less. As for Barnenez, which is on the north shore, it boasts the largest Neolithic burial structure in Europe.
Did you know that the largest menhir in Brittany measured almost 60 feet in height, however it now lies broken on its side at Locmariaquer?
The numerous standing stones which are scattered so liberally around the region remains quite puzzling. Some were arranged in somewhat neat rows, like those in Carnac, however many more stood in isolation.
Fertility objects, key places in religious rituals, boundary markers? Their precise function eludes many.
Now Obelix had other plans for his Menhirs!!