ENSEMBLE MEGALITHIQUE DE LOCMARIAQUER is signed coming into the town. There are two large car parks. The site is surrounded by tall coniferous hedges. A raised platform on the footpath along the road may give some views. The Visitor Centre is carefully designed not to intrude too much. It has some books and assorted tee shirts. The toilets were basic. There is a video and earphones with English and German translation are available. There are steps up to a viewing area on the roof. This is probably the best place to photograph Er Grah.
Along with Carnac, this is one of the most important megalithic sites in the area. The area has been settled since about 6000BC and there was a high population density and strong hierarchical structure. As well as the three main structures here there are smaller dolmens scattered around the immediate area. The megaliths are surrounded by grass and a fence controls access to the site. The best photos of Er Grah need to be taken from the end and this is impossible.
ER GRAH was begun about 4500BC when a tumulus with small cairns on top was constructed. About 4200BC a small burial chamber surrounded by a circular stone cairn was added. It was further extended about 4000BC to the north and south by the addition off a mass of clay held in place on each side by dry stone facings. In the 19thC, the northern part was destroyed by quarrying. At the start of the 20thC the monument had collapsed in places and was covered in vegetation. It was restored to its original condition in 1992. The main cairn is a massive stepped structure. All that remains from the 4000BC extension are the two long dry stone facings.
GRAND MENHIR BRISE is huge. It now lies broken in four pieces. Intact it is over 20m long and would have stood about 18.5m high. It is thought it was erected about 4500BC. The stone was quarried about 12km away and was smoothed using quartz hammers. It is assumed it might have been part of a lunar observatory. Behind it is an area of stony ground which was originally a row of 18 smaller menhirs. These and the Grand Menhir were destroyed between 4300-4200BC but it is not know whether it was accidental or deliberate. Parts of the stones were reused in other dolmens and tumuli in the area. It is thought the Table des Marchants may contain some.
TABLE DES MARCHAND is a passage grave aligned to the summer solstice and erected about 3700BC. A massive mound of stones covers a passage way to the central chamber. Entry is allowed into the dolmen. There are two upright stones and a massive capstone at the entrance. This is quite low so you need to mind your head and back. The passage gradually gets higher and it is possible to stand upright in the central chamber. This gets quite claustrophobic if there are more than about 5 people in it. The passageway and chamber are lined with massive stones. The only light comes down the passageway.
The capstone is thought to have been brought from an older carved dolmen that was broken up before reusing. The carvings of an axe and a plough pulled by oxen are quite difficult to make out. The end stone has whorls and arches as well as 20thC carving “gazelle”. These are best seen by standing in the passageway as this blocks some of the natural light entering and the carvings are much clearer. Take pictures from here too. We could see carvings on some of the large stones in the passageway. The large uprights are packed in by beautifully laid smaller stones.
There are other smaller dolmens in the area. DOLMEN MANE LUD on the edge of the town. There is a large parking area and it is a 5 minute walk along a well made track through the trees. The dolmen is set in woodland behind the village. It is built into the ground. There are narrow steps down to the entrance and a long passageway to the end chamber. Gaps between the cap stone and end stones let in a little natural light.
DOLMEN DE MANE RETHUAL is signed down a narrow passage way in the centre of the town. It is in a small enclosed grassy area among houses. It is a long covered alley grave but the entrance was too low for us to enter easily.
My reviews of the megalithic sites around Carnac are here:
Our pictures of Locmariaquer can be viewed here: