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My first time here was slightly hampered by small children and knock 'em over winds, seven years later in thick sunshine I'm back for a full circuit, and a gander at that restored cairn. The walk from car to hill fort entrance is no more than fifteen minutes, it's all up and the views expand accordingly. The entrance to the fort isn't as impressive and imposing as the rest of the fort would suggest, that's mainly because it isn't the actual entrance, but rather the route of the Offas Dyke path. There are two entrances, both on the east side, so that's the route I take, counter clockwise. The single bank starts off quite low and mellow, steadfastly it follows the edge of the hill up and over hillocks and spurs, in one place a massive hollow is come across, but the bank carries on. But by the time I reach the only entrance I can say is definitely an entrance they have grown to at least six feet in height.
Some shenanigans have taken place here at the entrance, a massive strip of grass has been removed and covered in a wooden fence, laying horizontal over the scar, a big pile of plastic covered something has been placed in the inner ditch, from the rubble taken from the forts defences someone has created a small throne, shenanigans I tell you.
The walk along the eastern ramparts is now gaining in some more height, the views to the east are long but a bit flat and farmy, there are also two banks now. Wheeling in the far distant sky is a Red Kite, an unmistakeable silhouette against the deep blue of the sky, this is the farthest north I've seen them.
Now the north end of the fort has been achieved the ramparts have grown in number again, four there are now, and very good they look too covered in unusually bright pink heather, in fact, over half the fort is covered in pink heather. From here I can just see the trig point on Moel Y Parc, behind which is a barrow and a cairn, I'll have to go there one day and see if there's much difference between the two. I stop off here for a look at the restored cairn, and decide that it is a very loose restoration, it looks good but longevity has eluded it's restorers. Turning south I retrace the kids and mine steps from seven years ago, two large banks make it most of the journey down the west end, punctuated by a slight and possibly modern entrance with a stile, and some fairly convincing round house platforms. Then it's back up to the false entrance at the south end and the view beckons us on to the next hill fort over Moel Arthur, but I went up there not long ago and it's almost tea time ive gotta go. So I go.
This is a superb hill fort, one of the largest in Wales I suspect, and that cairn needs to be seen before it fades back into the well trodden hill top.
When I came here in 2007 I stood right next to if not on top of this bronze age cairn, and never noticed it. Of course I noticed there was the predictable small walkers pile of stones on the highest ground but, apart from that I remained clueless. Until Thesweetcheat went up there and found that the thing had been restored, of course that means I'll have to go back for another look, four years it took since I found out about it. Not bad.
The cairn is right at the northern tip of the fort of the same name, and right next to one of the busiest footpaths in North Wales. It looks good but I'm not sure about it though, the stones of the kerb are loose and simply placed on the ground in a circle around the slight mound. Some of the stones have already started to spread, I replaced a few but they leave a big brown mark where the grass has died. Honestly, I cant really see it remaining long in the shape it is now, which is a shame because it looks good, from a distance.
I all but saved this one to the last, Kercado is the one that got away last time, the one that nagged at me most for not seeing it. So I cleared our schedule grabbed the camera and torch and promised the kids some crepes, mmmmm pancakes.
It didn't go down well to find the age old creperie had been bought and turned into a curry house, Rogan Josh ? in the middle of the afternoon ?
The kids said no.
So we made our way over to the Tumulus, an underwhelming description if ever I heard one, and paid the disinterested youth. In receipt of said pay we received a quickly translated into English pamphlet about the "Tumulus", so, armed to the teeth with information and exploratory tools we entered the woods.
A sign by the paying entrance fee area on the wall proclaimed the tumulus to be 4500 Before JC, Jimeny Cricket, now that's an old place.
The bright and breezy walk through the trees took but a minute before we were brought face to face with Carnac's beating heart. Perhaps, certainly maybe definitely the oldest of all the amazements currently found around Carnac, Spaceship mark says it's 4800 years BC, Bloomin Crikey that's an old place.
As we approached the entrance to the tomb a couple came out and went off round the back, giving us the chamber to ourselves for a while, we went inside. Carnac's beating heart had a puddle in it, the analogy lost a bit there, then Eric hit his sister and he got sent outside to find a naughty step to sit on. Honestly, even in here ?
But neither stumbling splashes nor minor miscreants could mar this moment, I admired the huge floating capstone above us and I searched for carvings, but I couldn't find them, perhaps the pamphlet could shed some light on them, oh right.. Eric's got it.
Found during excavations were flint, diorite and jadeite axes, and middle and late neolithic pottery, restored in 1925. Jane says now that it's as old as 5000bc, that's 7000BP, Bum pack that's an old place, and getting older all the while apparently.
I wish I could've stayed there for ages, but someone was hanging round the entrance, obviously our time was up, come in number 42.
So we followed the stone circle around the tumulus, people rarely go around the back, and here in the woods we found a good arc of small to medium stones. Burl says of the circle , it is an incomplete misshapen ring of 27 stones (we didn't see that many), graded in height from a six footer at the ESE, the best preserved arc is at the south, there are no stones at the north, he strangely doesn't mention the surmounting pillar, which must have gone up around the same time as the circle, I'm presuming. I wonder how far down it goes, does it touch the capstone ? what did it all look like before it was restored ? what did it all look like when the stone circle and menhir was put up ? Why does Doctor who always pick fit young girls to take to exotic locations ? they never fully appreciate it.
This is an absolute wonder of a place, somewhere to see in all seasons in all weathers, so with an afternoon in summer under our belts we pick Eric up from his naughty step and leave.
Our ferry tomorrow leaves at 11am, and it could take as long as eight hours to get there, so we leave in the middle of the night in the most torrential rain you've ever seen, got back into England to find scorchio sunshine, then we ran out of petrol with no money, aaargh, pain is the cleanser, pain is the cleanser!!!
This is the third and last of the three main alignments (heading east) . Thirteen rows of 555 stones running for only 250 meters, the tallest of which is 13 feet tall, I say only when comparing it with the other two sets of stones.
The smaller wooded alignments of Petite Menec are a further 3 to 4 hundred meters east.
Fences kept me away from the stones and a tour guide party just emptied itself out onto the road side, they're all over the place, I'm off to see the dolmen. The wonderful dolmen of Kercado.
This cromlech is actually rectangular, and forms the starting point of the Kerlescan stone rows. Fenced off from the multitudes access is only by small guided tours. I intended to come back later in the evening for a wee sneak but never gone the chance. So I only saw it from the road, fleetingly, between tourists and stables.
Fortunately Sir Aubrey (why not) describes it thoroughly, abbreviated thus...........
Tall granite pillars in a rectangle 78m x 74m, on the right side, from the road, the east side of the rectangle is a straight line of 18 stones, the south side nearest the road is a shallow convex arc of 11 stones, the left west side is equally convex and also of 11 stones. There are no stones at the north side, but close to it is a neolithic long mound called a tertre with a tall menhir at it's western egde. The three sided structure is therefore more of a horseshoe.
I wish I'd had time to come back later, it sounds a very curious site.
The Kermario alignments are my favourite of these three road side alignments, they've got several things going for them, the dolmen in the corner of the field, the ruined windmill that's been turned into a very effective look out point, eleven hundred meters of rows of megaliths, we shouldn't call these stones because it doesn't have the word mega in it. Then when you think your going stone blind, when your seeing stones every where and feeling punch drunk on the old stuff, you can take a break have a crepe and a beer and buy postcard or a porcelain dolmen. Then head back out into the utter nonsense that is the Carnac stone rows. Do make sure you take a look at the dolmen in the corner it shouldn't be overlooked and the windmill ruin is definitely the best place to appreciate the megaliths.
At the end of the Kermario rows is the right turn that takes you to the Kercado tumulus. The mustest of sees.
I was following road signs to get to Carnac from the D768 near Mane Kerioned, I wasn't sure where in Carnac it would take me, so I sat back and enjoyed the evening. It was about 9pm and we'd had a long day, the sun was sinking below the trees but not the horizon, but I just wanted to "do" the stone road, the D196, the road that passes all the stone rows.
So there I was taking my time, minding my own business driving down just another country lane, when the trees either side of the road gave way to open fields, open fields with more standing stones than you've ever seen in one place in your life, I guarantee it.
I immediately knew where I was, at the far west end of the Menec rows, 400 meters away from the Cromlech that starts the stone rower heading east.
I had to quickly pull over at the side of the road, we were in the rows, the road cuts straight through it all, abominable I know, but it's done, and where else in the world can you park your car in a world heritage site, cant be many.
I pulled the car round the corner and parked in a more proper layby, jumped out and twoddled over the road to the fence that still keeps summer visitors out. Slack jawed incomprehension, speechless, and utterly mystified I took just two pictures and returned to the car.
"Have you seen all them stones" I asked the kids,
They admitted that they were hard to miss,
"and they carry on for another two miles right next to this road" I enthused, this got them,
"Really? why? "
Aint that the question that keeps you going.
This Allee Couverte is situated right by the side of the road on the D196 or Route de Kerlescan (or the stone road), so it really cant be missed, despite all the lovely long rows of stones.
But, it's on the wrong side of the fence, the fence that keeps people from wandering at will among the stones. Still, it's a very half hearted fence only waste high, easily jumped in a moment even by , say, a twelve year old boy.
Four large white rounded stones lie across the waste high orthostats and traces of the cairn still cling to the sides of these. It has the almost obligatory south east facing entrance, whether the winter solstice sun shines down the passage like nearby Kercado I couldn't say. Perhaps it was enough just to point the right way.
Because of the fence cutting the stones off from the road the surrounding flora has really flourished, ferns, grasses, a bit of gorse and buttercups on grass inside the dolmen.
We were going to come back later in the evening when everyone not obsessed has returned to their normal holidaying activities, but something came up and we never made it.
Out of season would be most ideal, i believe it is open to the wanderer out of season, but exactly when that it is I'm still a touch unclear. Mid October would be nice.
Just south of Plouharnel on the D781 to Carnac, another dolmen throwing itself in front of me, so what can one do but swerve dangerously into the adjacent farm entrance, and dump the car for a very short while.
Leaving the kids in the car for a few minutes I carefully legged it across the busy road for a quick sniff about. Sometimes having an ancient site right next to a house can be a bit disheartening, but this one is right by a house and so close to the road that it looks like it's playing frogger, a simple spirit might mistake it for a bus stop.
Were it anywhere else it would be fabulous, a nice big capstone held up with uprights pointy and squat, with cairn material or dry stone walling at the back of the chamber. Next time I come to Brittany I'm not going to bother with a hotel I'm going to sleep rough in a dolmen, a different one every day. Not sure what the kids are going to do though..
When I were a lad at school, my two favourite books in the library was a Fabulous beasts book and an Ancient mysteries book, in the latter was the Carnac stone rows and a dolmen, this one, at Crucuno. So this was perhaps the first dolmen I was ever aware of, and now 32 years later, here I am, and I can scarcely believe it. They say that you should never meet your heroes, but I say tosh and cobblers, get in your car and get your arse into gear, go, go now.
It's as simple as driving on the wrong side of the road to find, and many and much parking places to be had just yards away. It was taller than most other dolmens we've seen, no bowing and crouching here. The way the capstone fits onto the uprights, and the way they are set into the ground makes it feel to me to be a perfect example of whatever type of dolmen it is, a show room model.
The house next door, very next door, is still dilapidated, signs tell us of it's dangers, either tear it down or fix it up, please.
I've heard it said that the village idiot used to live here, what ? with that great big puddle ? poor chap. But the village idiot is a bit not nice, I prefer another way I've heard of describing him, a simple spirit. Could've been talking about me.
There is not much I can add to Ravenfeather's notes, except maybe that it's located half way between Elven and Tredion on the D1, west of the road, there is room to park for maybe four cars. A five minute walk through some very pretty woods.
This was another one of those places when you see a picture of it and you know that if you get the chance you've got to go for it. We had the chance, in fact it was very close to Vannes where we were staying so we went for it. I've gone a bit out of order adding these pics and notes, this was in fact the last place we went to before we came home. But ive added them next to Ty Ar Chorriket because the two are very similar except of course for the big capstone, it's like they combined two different ways of building a burial chamber. Which is I like.
It's not marked on my map, but it is well worth the minimal effort involved. Could have stayed here a while but daughter is in the car waiting and it's nearly tea time.
From Duarnenez follow the D7 west, looking for a right hand turn that almost goes back on itself, signposted from there. There is quite a large parking area next to the path that leads to the woods, about 50 yards distant is the information board, you can see the front section of the Arc Boutee from here 20 yards away.
This is another place Moth and Jane made me go to, just one look at it and I knew that the next time I get the chance I'm definitely going there. As far as the kids were concerned we were going to a big aquarium today, but of course I could squeeze in a couple of burial chambers and a couple of menhirs too.
It was fairly early in the morning and my two little bundles of joy were sleepy in the car so I had the place to my self.
They're just bonkers in Brittany aren't they, you don't get stuff like this at home, not even close.
The early morning sun filtered through the canopy above, a few birds were singing but it was otherwise silent, it doesn't get much more perfect.
The stones were slightly bigger than I was expecting, there was enough room to actually get in and shuffle along the passage on your haunches. There are also many other stones scattered around, but I only went about fifty yards away.
I love it, the improbable way it's all put together, the kerb stones pointing away from the passage make it have a W appearance head on. It is just so absurd and fantastic.
If you are in the area, or even if your not, we weren't, make this a must see, it is a delight to behold. I cant understand why Castel Rufel is more famous
Today we have been to Brest, to Oceanopolis, Brittany's biggest aquarium, our hotel in Vannes is about a hundred miles away. In between the two, more or less, is Ty Ar Boodigay. Ever since Moth and Jane went there nearly five years ago, the name has been rattling round my head, and, even if the precise picture of it had faded in my mind the memory of a perfect chambered cairn had remained, I must see it, I decided, next time I'm in the area (like I come here all the time?).
It is a drive of over forty miles from Brest to Brennelis and I'd be needing some petrol, so I chose to go along the main N12 duel carriageway from Brest to Morlaix, but there was not one petrol station (at home I'd have passed at least three), very close to running out I went into Morlaix, a big town, but not big enough to have a petrol station though. I thought of going to Barnenez cairn instead, but stuck to my guns, in the end I found a petrol station after much panicking and flustering, and soon we were heading south on the right road, with petrol a plenty. Bloody Frenchies.
Brennelis is a very small town in Brittany's rocky hilly interior, it is as hilly as it gets in Brittany but it's nothing like Snowdonia or owt, a bit like Bodmin moors high places.
The official car park quickly passed us by on our left, so we turned back and parked up, it was a big area but we were all alone. Nice.
The chamber is visible under a tree and close to the car, half a minutes walk. The back end of the chamber is arrived at first, something has been removed from the side of the chamber and you can scramble in through the wide gap.
But I like to walk all the way round before I go in, but all the way round can't be done because of a low wall that slightly truncates the barrow, that and a bit of graffiti inside are all that's wrong with it.
Around the front is the entrance, and it is a wide and welcoming entrance that beckons you in, I suspect that a cap stone or two may be missing from the very front. Inside it is dry, light and airy, and there is a standing stone. What ?
Where have I seen one of those before ? well Bryn Celli Ddu for a start, and like that one the stone is not structural in any way, very mysterious.
It's late in the afternoon now and it's almost time to go, it has been a perfect time here at Ty Ar Boudiket, a picnic would be ideal, a cold beer or two sublime.
Swallows squealing round, warm dappled sunlight filters down through the trees, it is lovely lovely lovely, I am very sad to have to leave, but I'm already looking forward to the next time , and the holidays not over just yet.
Just 8km away from Kerloas, these two sites were very high on my wish list, the 1st and 3rd tallest stones in Brittany. There was much more in the area I wanted to see, but these damn French roads are perfectly designed to take you in the opposite direction to the way you want to go. After the big Aquarium at Brest (titter) we got horribly messed about, I've developed a special hatred for French road designers, they are all manner of unrepeatable
swear words. A pox upon them.
But, the ancient Bretons must be applauded for their stone shifting efforts, it is nothing short of superhuman. Few places in Britain or the rest of the world can be compared to Brittany. It is the stuff of dreams come true. The biggest stones in the world, the highest concentration of stones and dolmens anywhere. One cannot enthuse about the place enough.
The French have tried really hard to make the rest of the place a nightmare though, they've taken all the best ideas the modern age has to offer then fluffed it up royally.
Oh yes the stones, they're allright I suppose.
Trip advisor indeed.
Parking is easy, finding the signposted duo is easy. Eric elected to go barefoot, he's turned a bit feral so far from home. From the corner of the field the up right menhir is arrived at first, it is only a little shorter than Kerloas and Dol, but you'd need a tape measure and some extending ladders to prove it.
Tall and lean and made of stone, it is a perfect example of a menhir.
But the other stone has had an accident, it's fallen over, not all the way though, you can get onto the stone and walk all the way to it's tip, thus making an inspection of the tip of the stone ultra easy. Eric and me sat with our legs dangling over the edge, swinging back and forth, like kids do. We stayed until someone else came, a little man with a big camera, over compensating some might say, we gave him the field and headed off to Morlaix, after getting turned around in Brest (tiiter) again.
Kerloas, the field of sadness, grief or mourning, which ever meaning you take it is not a happy place.
But today it is a very happy place, I have the stone all to myself, but should we call it a stone ? it is made of stone, granted, but a tall thin mountain would be more like it.
Is this the tallest standing stone in the whole world ? excepting Egyptian obelisks, which to my mind don't count. If it isn't, ive yet to hear of a bigger one. Some say it is 9.5 meters high, which is exactly what they say of Champ Dolent menhir, so it is equal first place, but then Kerloas has been truncated, cut short by as much as two meters, the broken bits apparently carted away by local farmer.
As I walk around I cant help smiling at the incredulous hugeness of it, 350 tonnes, dragged over 3km and then stood upright. Blammo, is your mind intact, nowhere near.
The two bumps carved on its lower flanks are very intriguing, his and hers fertility rubbing points, tosh I'd say, I tried, I'm too short by nearly a foot. So I decided it was for medicinal purposes, I rubbed my back where I had my operation and I'm glad to say that it does not hurt at all, it could just be good doctormanship instead though.
Not far from the big car park, very easy to find, well, your not going to miss it are you.
I combined it with a trip to Oceanopolis, Brittany's biggest aquarium, the kids loved it.
It was getting late now and I was on my way back to the hotel, but as I was driving past I saw a sign saying Mane Lud Dolmen, and like I said, when a dolmen throws itself in front of you, it is impossible to resist a quick look, and it was I'm afraid to say a very quick look.
I came at it from the opposite direction to Moth and Jane, who seem to have been every where around here. The parking place is large, room for twenty cars at least. The path goes off towards some houses, it takes maybe five minutes from car to dolmen. It is a weird path, going where you don't expect it to, it ended in a small cul de sac, the dolmen is just round the corner. The mound is massive, this is another one of Copes Carnac Grand Tumuli. But the chamber can be accessed now, and it's a doozey. Roofed over by a whopping but broken capstone, the chamber is accessed via some modern steps at the far end of the big tumulus. The property next door has built their shed right next to the chamber, it forms one side of the passage into the chamber. It was really getting dark now and I didn't have time to inspect the interior thoroughly, if I did I would have seen some faded ancient carvings. Oh well, next time, for there will be a next time, ive still only seen half of what the Carnac region has to offer.
Our fantastic Mr Cope groups Er Grah together with six other big tumuli, calling them the Carnac Grand tumuli, it is a phrase I cannot find elsewhere (granted I haven't tried very hard) so it must be one of his own, possibly.
If it is of the same ilk as Mane er Hroek and the tumulus St Michel then the chamber would have never been able to be entered, they buried the chamber beneath tonnes of Cairn with no passage, so no getting in.
The chamber here, is just visible, the capstone sits proudly just above the cairn. The capstone is again taken from a toppled menhir, but whether it is from Le Grand menhir Brise is a matter for discussion.
There is still no way of getting under the capstone, nor even to try and peak through any gaps as there is no cairn climbing allowed. I know ive sneaked in and there is no one here to tell me off, but some sensitivities remain, and anyway, I'm trying to keep my head down.
The cairn is a massive construction, even now, but originally it would have been much higher, perhaps twice as high as the capstone. Much stone robbing has occurred.
My advice is to get here early, be the first through the door, pay your money, stay a while, and don't be afraid to stray onto the grass. Bloody Frenchies.
Due to sneaking in after hours there would be no getting into the Table des Marchants, which is a shame, I tried the gate blocking the entrance but it was of course locked. Ive been in before, but there was a sign saying no photography, like an idiot I obeyed the sign now I have no photos of it's wondrous interior.
But is it wondrous ? Older pictures of it show it as a simple, massive, but simple dolmen. But today there is a long passage, impressive entrance, and strange stepped cairn covering it all, it all looks great, but its very modern. The dolmen was covered solely to protect the carvings, so, what they've done is erect a modern folly over an awesome megalithic site, I think I might have preferred it the way it was.
From Mane Rutual I walked up the road to the gate where you can look over it at the three marvels here, Er Grah, Table Des Marchands and Le Grand Menhir Brise. From the gate the big broken stone is tantalisingly close, there was no one around, so, like a very bad boy I jumped over the gate in a trice and had the trio to myself.
If I'd paid to go in I wouldn't have been able to walk on the grass, touch the stone, or even have a good look around it. But as it's after closing time there would be no getting into the Marchants table.
It's all about give and take, ive given Brittany over a thousand pounds, I wanna see the stones and no little gate is gonna stop me. Am I a bad ass or just determined?
Le Grand Menhir Brise was the biggest standing stone in France, possibly in Europe, only Egyptian obelisks are taller, but I don't really class them as standing stones. If you know of a bigger one please let me know. It may have stood 14 meters high, if it ever stood at all. Some parts of the broken stone have been removed to be capstones for nearby and not so nearby dolmens.
The four remaining pieces are most impressive, and no matter where you are in the complex your eye keeps being drawn back to the great broken stone.
Three pieces are still in such a position that you can see they still lie where they fell, but the fourth and biggest piece has somehow twisted around and away from the other three. It is difficult to imagine where the parts that were removed came from as the four parts seem to fit together.
It is a most perplexing and mysterious thing. Oh, and it's very very big.
The kids had made some friends at the hotel and their parents granted me two hours leave to go see some stones, so with no small amount of glee I bombed it over to Locmariaquer. Followed the signs for Table des Marchands, went straight past it, turned right at the cemetery down a very thin road until I saw the sign for Mane Rutuel. Parking here is precarious to say the least, there is not much room at all.
A path leads you in between some houses and past their gardens, there was someone at the burial chamber before me, so I strolled as slowly as I could. That's the thing about sites around Carnac, you very rarely get the place to yourself unless your there out of season, but I guarantee that they never stay long. The young English family didn't even go in, what's the point ?
This long Allee Couverte sits in an area barely big enough to contain it, there is just enough room for three to walk abreast around it. After walking around it I bent low and passed through the entrance.
There is a lot of concrete here, more concrete than in any other site ive seen here, it's not particularly pretty. The passage opens out slightly into a round-ish chamber, tall enough to stand upright in. But beyond the round-ish chamber is the concrete chamber, it seems cut off from the rest of the monument, like it wasn't used at all, almost all the wall stones are concrete, graffitied and littered. It is best appreciated from the outside, where the concrete is almost invisible.
The massive capstone that sits at the end of the passage is truly gargantuan, the carved human figure on it's under side was not visible to me, mostly because I didn't know it was there. Was this capstone one of the menhirs from the alignment up the road ? it is very rectangular, unlike most other Carnac Menhirs. So I don't know.
But that is where I'm going now, even though it's closed for the day.
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After visiting over a thousand ancient places and driving between fifteen to twenty thousand miles every year I can only conclude that I'm obsessed with these places, and finding this website seven years ago only compounded that obsession, at least I'm not alone anymore.
My favourite places are:
Ring of Brodgar
Balnauran of Clava
Nine stones close
Bryn Celli Ddu
The Druids circle (penmaenmawr)
Gwal y Filiast
La Roche au Fees
Talati De Dalt
and these are only the ones that immediatly spring to mind, so many stones and not enough lifetimes.