I love the word Awesome, but sometimes feel it gets used too much. However, I have to use it in relation to the amaizing, ancient, and enormous site of standing stones at Carnac in France. They are just Awesome! The Alignments as they are referred to, are estimated to have been here since around 3,300 BC some even before 4,500 BC. There estimated to be over 3,000 standing stones with numerous tumuli in the surrounding area. Again they are of a similar blue stone to the stones at Stonehenge.
To start off with they seem quite small, and curious all standing in lines, more or less following an east -west alignment. Almost an anti-climax after such a long journey to see them. Slowly though, as one walks along one begins to see how varied they are, how over time the weather has shaped each one individually till each one has their own character. Some are almost cuddly and others certainly are not but together they certainly demand respect.
We were lucky that on one of the week-end days we were there the usually gated areas were opened. During high season (April – October) the areas are generally gated off to reduce damage to ecoloday and stones.
It was really once we were able to walk between the stones you begin to feel the very different scale of this site, how big, how ancient and how long this stone procession really is.
There is much speculation about what they were for and what they were about. For a long while they were lost to separate farm steads. Much folk lore speculation had built up over time, including they were pagans turned to stone by St Cornelius who was a Christian missionary and established the Church in Carnac around 400AD or were the grave stones of the ancients. Each site was steady reclaimed at the end of the 19th Century and beginning of 20th Century, and in some cases re siting some of the tumbled stones. There is little doubt they, like most stone circles and megalithic sites, are orientated to mark out seasons, the solstices. However, there is some evidence they also have a moon and Luna connection – however, our short visit and poor French could not quite get to the bottom of this. One thing there certainly seems to be less information on this site about it’s ceremonial and society use than on sites such as Stonehenge or Avebury, even though it is just as large and of just as much significance as these sites in terms of age and construction.
Along the alignment there are Tumulie the most important now has St Michael’s Chapel on top of it to the south of the Alignments and to the north of Carnac town, and when excavated it revealed many treasures including an ornate blue crystal stone necklace which marked out it’s own are as someone of significant spiritual authority at the time. The stones look almost like Turquoise but are thought to be a gemstone from Portugal, showing that this area has been liven in and trading far and wide for many millennia. There is a burial site in the middle of the alignments situated towards the eastern part of the alignments:
But nothing quite compared to the Burial Chamber almost stumbled across to the south of the Alignments, in the forests, at Kercado. Dated to before 4,500 this mega burial site for the chief of the time is on top of the highest ground of the area, although it’s prominence is not obvious being in the forest, marked out with a stone to the west beside it and a stone on top to the east, giving a definite feeling of the birth, life, death, rebirth progression. The whole site was once surround with it’s own stone circle, some of the stones still in place.
These alignments are not just about weather and death though there is a definite sense that it was just as much about life and a place for people to gather, perhaps even debate the issues of the time at the Quadrangle and marked out by the Grand Manio
The Alignments stretch West to East for about 4 – 5 Km, which is easily walked in less than a day but to get to know them will take much, much longer!