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Locmariaquer is a Stone Age site in north-west France distinguished by its two large stone tombs and massive granite standing stone or menhir. The monumental structures, all built within metres of each other, were built in the 5th millennium BCE by the local sedentary farming community and are amongst the most impressive Neolithic monuments anywhere.


The huge igneous stone monolith known as the Grand-Menhir was a single piece of granite 20 metres tall and over 280 tonnes in weight. The engineering skills employed to move and erect such a massive stone are impressive, especially as the nearest source of such stone was 10 km distant. The menhir was carefully positioned, probably using earth ramps, at the end of an alignment of 18 interlocking stones c. 4,500 BCE, now destroyed but indicated at the site today. The menhir would have been finished off and given a smooth surface using quartz hammers. Another large menhir or stele once stood near the Grand-Menhir and two large pieces from it - identified by their ox carvings - were reused in the Table-des-Marchands tomb (tumulus) nearby (see below) and the stone tomb on the small island of Gavrinis across the Gulf of Morbihan 4 km away. The surface of the Grand-Menhir shows deliberate stud marks and a socket was made in the base of the stone to increase its stability when standing. Nevertheless, the giant subsequently toppled over and fractured into four large pieces. Whether this was due to natural causes such as high winds, lightning or an earthquake, or due to a deliberate breakage is unclear. More certain is the fall likely occurred only a few hundred years after its erection, sometime around 4,000 BCE.

Due to the acidity of the soil, no human remains have been found in the tomb, but excavations have revealed flint tools, jewellery, and a ceramic dish.

Er-Grah Tumulus

The Er-Grah tumulus (or Er Vinglé in the local Breton language meaning 'quarry' and indicating the site's role as a source of building material in later times), located just a few metres from the Grand-Menhir, was probably constructed around 4,200 BCE. The single-person tomb measures 140 metres in length and ranges in width from 16 to 26 metres. Taking a trapezoid shape, the height is relatively modest at no more than 2 metres. The structure evolved over time, starting out in c. 4,500 BCE as a group of small burial mounds and ditches with some dwellings. Later, a rectangular cairn was constructed over the site, which incorporated a huge slab stone as a roof and which is still part of the structure today. In c. 4,000 BCE the cairn was extended using limestone covered with a surface layer matching the existing stones. Due to the acidity of the soil, no human remains have been found in the tomb, but excavations have revealed flint tools, jewellery, and a ceramic dish.

Table-des-Marchands Tumulus

The large stone tomb known as the Table-des-Marchands was constructed c. 4,000 BCE. The monument's name (Table of the Merchants) derives from the huge stone slab incorporated into the roof of the interior chamber (dolmen) which measures 7 x 4 m and is 80 cm thick. The slab was, in fact, first fully-excavated in Roman times and is part of the stone whose other piece was used in the tumulus at Gavrinis. The stone mound at Locmariaquer measures 30 x 25 metres, but its present height is less than half of the original. The inner stone tomb and entrance corridor are made with large flat upright stones topped by horizontal slabs and dry masonry. The corridor allowed for additional burials to be added to the tomb over time. The inner tomb is an impressive 2.5 metres in height and includes a large pointed stone positioned facing the entrance, considered to represent a divinity. This large sandstone stele is covered with linear relief carvings and was originally set near the Grand-Menhir before being used within the tumulus. Other carvings on the interior stones include crooks, oxen, and axe heads.

Locmariaquer - History

In September 1944, low on supplies, Patton's 3rd Army came to a grinding halt in Lorraine without capturing the Siegfried Line and without fully cutting off German forces withdrawing from southern France. Hodges' 1st Army is similarly halted in front of the Siegfried Line near Aachen. Eisenhower gave supply priority to the British, who try but fail to capture a bridgehead across the Rhine at Arnhem. Although they had captured the port of Antwerp intact, islands downstream like Walcheren remained in German hands, blocking the use of the port for some time. What if the Allies had been able to continue the advance? Could they have advanced into Germany and ended the war in 1944? Was this even possible? Why did the Allies encounter such severe supply problems?

Could these supply problems have been prevented? Some say, "Yes!" The original Overlord plans called for the liberation of Brittany followed by its development as the Allied logistical base. The ports of St. Malo, Brest, Lorient, and St. Nazaire were all seen as important ports to be captured and developed. Considering the strong defenses built around them and the German history of thoroughly destroying ports that fell into Allied hands, the Allies considered another alternative - an artificial port. In April 1944, a plan for an artificial port was approved for the Auray River near the Morbihan, a body of water connected to Quiberon Bay. This operation, code named Chastity, was never implemented. There are a variety of reasons. Although the Allied high command was familiar with the plan, lower levels of command - army, corps, and division - were never told the importance of the region. The July 25th Cobra breakthrough opened a hole for the US Army to exploit. On July 31st, the 4th Armored Division captured the bridge at Pontaubault, opening up Brittany for exploitation. The 4th Armored Division pressed toward Lorient but according to orders, the division halted in front of the port city on August 3rd. Corps commander Troy Middleton ordered the halt as he had been directed by Patton to use minimum force to take Brittany. The move east into the rear of the German army in Normandy was now a higher priority. The German commander of Lorient would later say that a quick American attack would have captured the port. Fourth Armored was in the area for a total of nine days but did not liberate the Quiberon Peninsula, a necessity to implement Operation Chastity. Eager to enter the fray to the east, the 4th Armored Division joined Patton's drive eastward and was replaced by the 6th Armored Division. Given the opportunity, the roughly 30,000 Germans at Quiberon fortified their position and held out to war's end. Liberation of Belle Ile offshore was important to allow safe passage of ships to the port, and German held Brest was a threat to coastal shipping from England to Quiberon. By the time the Allies were experiencing their most serious supply problems, the weather in the Bay of Biscay made sea access to Quiberon Bay dangerous. An alternative plan, 'Operation Lucky Strike' was put into effect - the liberation and opening of Le Havre and the Seine ports, and the further east the Allies advanced, the more distant Quiberon Bay and the Brittany ports became.

Had the plan been implemented, this strait would have seen countless Allied supply ships coming and going.

This is the approximate location of the planned causeway from the town to the floating landing stage, which was to be connected by Bailey bridge. Two causeways would connect the mainland with the floating landing stage, which was to be made from parts left over from the Mulberry Harbor program. At Mulberry, procedure dictated one way traffic, so presumably at Locmariaquer one causeway would be for outbound traffic and another for inbound. Five ships direct from America could have unload at once for 2,500 tons per day, and another 7,500 tons per day could be unloaded from small boats ferrying supplies from 30 ships anchored nearby. Further upstream beyond where ocean going ships could moor, a mole with a crane would be connected to the shore by a rail line.

To ensure the safety of Allied ships, the Quiberon Peninsula had to be liberated. The peninsula was bypassed as the division commander had been halted and not been informed of the importance of the area. Even today, the long, sandy peninsula is home to many remains of the Atlantic Wall.

Just offshore, German guns at Belle Ile also posed a threat to potential incoming Allied ships. An amphibious and airborne operation had been planned but was never undertaken. I was unable to find detailed plans of this operation in the National Archives.

Although World War II defenses can be found, Belle Ile is better known for its Vauban designed citadel.

With a Quiberon Bay supply base seeming less practical, planners considered Cancale on the northern coast of Brittany. Compared to Quiberon Bay, coastal shipping to Cancale would not need to pass enemy occupied Brest or Lorient, and it was a shorter distance to Britain. Upon landing, supplies could also be transported on the nearby railroad. In the end, Cancale was also rejected as a potential port.

In late August the high command became less enthused with using Brest and Quiberon Bay, and they switched their attention to smaller Breton ports. The tonnage that a port could handle was not the only consideration, the type of cargo it could handle was also a factor. Small ports could unload only small coastal vessels, and these vessels could not handle all types of material and were vital to the British economy. In the first quarter of September, logistics planners leaned toward ending attacks on Brest and advised its containment since capture of both Le Havre and Antwerp was in sight. The battle for Brest continued until it fell to the Allies on September 19th. Brest was never used as a port by the Allied forces. On September 9th, with the frontlines 4-500 miles from Brittany, Eisenhower decided that ports at Quiberon, Lorient, St Nazaire, and Nantes were unnecessary, and the German garrisons could be contained. Also early in September, logistics planners suggested US port development resources be used on British sector ports north of the Seine. On September 27th, it was decided not to develop ports at St.Malo and Cancale. Brittany, once at the heart of Allied planning, was now a backwater, irrelevant to the outcome of the war.

The question of Operation Chastity and its potential usefulness remains, but it is a difficult question to answer definitively. One thing is clear, however, Allied logistics planning was fatally flawed, and many people died as a result.

In 1943, the Transportation Corps estimated that a total of 240 US truck companies would be needed to supply the Allied Expeditionary Force during next years' invasion. Supreme Headquarters wanted that number cut to 100, but a compromise figure of 160 companies was approved. Originally, 2/3 of these companies would be heavy companies with semi tractor-trailers suitable for long-haul use, but in the end this percentage was reduced to around 1/3 of the total- only 59 heavy companies. So from the beginning the high command failed to appreciate the importance of supply. At the end of July, as the Cobra breakthrough was occurring, only 94 of the planned 130 truck companies were available - a figure adequate for the pre-breakthrough situation - but not post-breakthrough exploitation. Why was a breakthrough planned but not its proper logistical support?
Depot System D+90 - Arrows indicate distance from division to depot

Nevertheless, on September 12th, D+98, Allied armies were at the D+350 phase line. From August 25th to September 12th, the Allies had advanced from D+90 to D+350 in just 19 days. Serious problems arose, and there was no easy solution.

In early September, one plan from 21st Army Group - not implemented - would have idled 19 divisions while 5 Allied corps advanced on Berlin. This plan needed 489 Allied truck companies, but only 347 were available, so trucks organic to the 19 idled divisions would make up the shortfall as well as air transport. The plan necessitated the capture and use of Antwerp by September 15th, so the plan was unworkable and attempted. It speaks to the desperation of the times that the high command had considered this plan - making half of the Allied Expeditionary Force immobile so that the other half could win the war!

Although Montgomery claimed that the phase lines would not limit the advance, they were used to plan supply - and so in effect they DID limit the advance. The phase lines were the basis for the number of transportation companies, the number of port clearance units, the number of railroad repair units, and the number of road repair units. If the advance went as planned, there would be trucks, port clearance units, road repairmen, and railroad repairmen when they were needed. But if the advance was slower than planned, men were idle. And if the advance was quicker than planned, there would not be enough trucks, not enough road repairmen, not enough railroad repair men, and not enough men to open up the ports. It was precisely the projected slow rate of advance that assumed a relatively late liberation of the Seine ports which made the Breton ports important.


The broken menhir, erected around 4700 BC at the same time as another 18 blocks nearby, is thought to have been broken around 4000 BC. Measuring 20.60 metres (67.6 ft) and with a weight of 330 tons, [2] the stone is from a rocky outcrop located several kilometres away from Locmariaquer. The impressive dimensions of this menhir still divide specialists about the techniques used for transport and erection, but the fact that this was achieved during the Neolithic era remains remarkable.

Worked over its entire surface, the monument bears a sculpture representing a "hatchet-plough". Unfortunately, today this is seriously eroded and very difficult to see.

Destruction Edit

It is not known what caused the menhir to topple and break into the four pieces that are now seen. At one time it was believed that the stone had never stood upright, but archaeological findings have proven that it did. The most popular theory is that the stone was deliberately pulled down and broken. Certainly other menhirs that accompanied it were removed and reused in the construction of tombs and dolmens nearby. However, in recent years, some archaeologists have favoured the explanation of an earthquake or tremor, and this theory is supported by a computer model.


Stone Age Edit

Paleolithic Edit

The Paleolithic period of Brittany ranges from 700 000 to 10 000 years BC. Traces of the oldest industries were found in the middle valley of the Vilaine river, identified as pebbles arranged in a quarry in Saint-Malo-de-Phily. [1] : 9 The oldest traces of habitat are located in Saint-Colomban, in Carnac, and take the form of settlements built in natural shelters (cliffs created by the erosion along the coasts). In addition to pebble, bifaces are found there, and the site dates to 300,000 BC. J.-C. Acheulian bifacials from this period are found along the sea coast, as Treguennec, Hôpital-Camfrout or Pléneuf. [1] : 11 The oldest traces of fire use (in the region but also of occidental Europe) are found on the site of Menez Dregan with a date making them up to 400 000 years BC. [1] : 13 The few human groups are then made of hunter-gatherers. [2] : 34

From the Middle-Mousterian period, remain two outstanding sites in the region, in Mont-Dol where scrapers were found in a site dated to 70,000 BC. , as well as at Goaréva on the island of Bréhat. [1] : 11

The Upper Paleolithic is characterized by a refined tools like blades and lamellae found on the site of Beg-ar-C'Hastel in Kerlouan, or at Plasenn-al-Lomm on the island of Bréhat. No painted cave is identified in the area, probably because of the rise of the level of the sea during the next period waters but the nearest cave of this type is known in Saulges. The end of the Palaeolithic period in the region is around 10,000 BC. J.-C. [1] : 12

Mesolithic Edit

The Mesolithic period covers in the region a period from 10,000 BC. to 5000 BC. , corresponding to the end of the last Ice Age and the resulting rise in water level. Steppe vegetation is replaced by a vegetation of birch and pine, and hazel, oak and elms large mammals give way to animals of smaller size as deer or wild boar. Men abandon the hunt for the picking and the first domestication trials appear. [1] : 12 The population is mainly coastal and larger on the south coast. The skeletons found from this period attest to an average size of 1.59 meters for men and 1.52 m for women. [2] : 35

Human technology continue to progress with a reduction in size of stone tools to form microliths. [1] : 12 Human societies are more structured, with a degree of specialization of activities in a given community (as indicated by studies of the Téviec burial site) [2] : 35 and the beginning of an artistic expression. [2] : 36 Traces of deaths caused by tools like arrows are also visible on some skeletons, attesting to sometimes violent conflicts between different communities. [1] : 15

Neolithic Edit

The Neolithic period (stretching from 5000 BC to 2000 BC.) saw the arrival of an agriculture based on slash-and-burn: land is reclaimed from the forest after having fired and is then used for breeding before sprinkling grass. [1] : 24 This evolution was made possible by the development of methods of extracting stones and their shaping. In a quarry in Plussulien, about 5000 dolerite axes were extracted per year, representing 40% of the axes of the Breton peninsula. The dissemination of these tools stretched to Paris basin, and 10 copies of these axes were found to Belgium and southern England. The region also imported yellow blond flint blades from Touraine. [1] : 25

This period is also notable for the development of megalithic monuments, helped by a significant economic growth. Two of the most ancient sites, the mound of Barnenez and the Petit-Mont, whose buildings date back to 5000 BC., evidenced by their similarities to a unity of culture in the peninsula. [1] : 15 This type of construction will eventually evolve and provide more regional variants. [3] In these burial sites were found engravings similar to those observed in Irish sites like Newgrange. [4]

Besides these barrows are also present menhirs, the highest known being in the Leon region where the largest, that of Kerloas, rises to 9.50 m. The largest ever erected is located in South Brittany in Locmariaquer: the Locmariaquer megaliths amounting to 18.5 m. Engravings can also be found there and their functions are multiple: Indicator of burials, astronomical and topographic features, or reflecting a water worship. The last menhirs were raised around 1800-1500 BC. They can be combined in single or multiple rows, or in semicircles or circles. [5]

Protohistory Edit

Iron Age Edit

A variety of tribes are mentioned in Roman sources, like the Veneti, Armoricani, Osismii, Namnetes and Coriosolites. Strabo and Poseidonius describe the Armoricani as belonging to the Belgae.

Armorican gold coins have been widely exported and are even found in the Rhineland.

Salterns are widespread in Northern Armorica, for example at Trégor, Ebihens and Enez Vihan near Pleumeur-Bodou (Côtes-d'Armor) and the island of Yoc'h near Landuvez (Finistère) of late La Tène date.

An estimated 40–55 kg of salt per oven were produced at Ebihens. Each oven was about 2 m long. The site dates to the end of the early La Tène or the middle La Tène period. Numerous briquetage remains have been found. At Tregor, boudins de Calage (hand-bricks) were the typical form of briquetage, between 2.5 and 15 cm long and with a diameter of 4–7 cm. At the salterns at Landrellec and Enez Vihan at Pleumeur-Bodou the remains of rectangular ovens have been excavated that are 2.5–3 m long and about 1 m wide, constructed of stones and clay. On the Gulf of Morbihan about 50 salterns have been found so far, mainly dating to the final La Téne period.

In 56 BC the area was conquered by the Romans under Julius Caesar. The main resistance came from the Veneti. After their defeat their leaders were killed and the tribe sold as slaves. The Romans called the district Armorica (a Latinisation of a Celtic word meaning "coastal region"), part of the Gallia Lugdunensis province. The modern département of Côtes-d'Armor has taken up the ancient name. After the reforms of Diocletian, it was part of the diocesis Galliarum.

The uprising of the Bagaudae in the 3rd century led to unrest and depopulation, numerous villages were destroyed. Thick layers of black earth in the towns point to urban depopulation as well. The rule of Constantine (307–350) led to a certain renaissance. Numerous coins were minted. At the tractus Armoricanus, new forts were built, for example at Brest, Avranches and Le Yaudet. The Notitia Dignitatum (circa 400 AD) mentions a number of local units manning the Tractus armoricanus et nervicanus, for example Mauritanian troops in the territory of the Veneti and Osismii. Frankish laeti were present in Rennes. Christianisation is commonly dated to the late fourth century, but material evidence is rare.

Early Middle Ages Edit

Arrival of the Bretons Edit

In the 380s, a large number of Britons in the Roman army may have been stationed in Armorica. The 9th century Historia Brittonum states that the emperor Magnus Maximus, who withdrew Roman forces from Britania, settled the troops there. Other British and Welsh authors (Nennius and Gildas) mention a second wave of South-Western Britons from Dumnonia, settling in Armorica in the following century to escape the invading Anglo-Saxons and Irish. Modern archaeology supports a two-wave migration. [6]

These Britons gave the region its current name and contributed the Breton language, Brezhoneg, a sister language to Welsh and Cornish. (Brittany used to be known in English as Little Britain to distinguish it from Great Britain).

Conan Meriadoc, the mythic founder of the house of Rohan, is mentioned by medieval Welsh sources as having led the settlement of Brittany by mercenaries serving Maximus. The Welsh text The Dream of Maxen, which contains semi-factual information about the usurpation of Maximus, states that they married native women after cutting out their tongues to preserve the purity of their language. [7] This can be interpreted as a legend formulated in order to explain the Welsh (Brythonic) name for Brittany, Llydaw, as originating from lled-taw or "half-silent". In fact, the term "Llydaw" or "Ledav" in early Breton probably derives from the Celtic name Litavis.

There are numerous records of missionaries migrating from Britania during the second wave, especially the Seven founder-saints of Brittany and Saint Gildas. Many Breton towns are named for these early saints. The Irish saint Colombanus also evangelised Brittany, commemorated at Saint-Columban in Carnac.

The earliest text known in the Breton language, a botanical treatise, dates from 590 (for comparison, the earliest text in French dates from 843). [8] Most of the early Breton language medieval manuscripts were lost during the Viking invasions.

The Petty Kingdoms Edit

In the Early Middle Ages, Brittany was divided into three kingdoms –

The first two kingdoms derive their names from the homelands of the migrating Britons (Devon and Cornwall). Bro Waroc'h ("land of Waroch") derives from the name of one of the first known Breton rulers, who dominated the region of Vannes (Gwened). The rulers of Domnonia such as Conomor sought to expand their territory (including holdings in British Devon and Cornwall), claiming overlordship over all Bretons, though there was constant tension between local lords.

Resistance to outside rule Edit

During the 9th century the Bretons resisted incorporation into the Frankish Carolingian Empire. The first unified Duchy of Brittany was founded by Nominoe. The Bretons made friendly overtures to the Danish Vikings to help contain Frankish expansionist ideas.

When the Carolingian empire was divided in 843, Nominoe took advantage of the confusion to consolidate his territory. In alliance with Lambert II of Nantes and the Viking warlord Hastein, Nominoe's son Erispoe defeated the Franks at the Battle of Messac. In 845 the Breton army under Nominoe defeated the forces of Charles the Bald, King of West Francia (France), at the Battle of Ballon, in the eastern part of Brittany near Redon and the Frankish border. Nominoe gained control over the major towns of Rennes and Nantes, which had previously formed part of the Frankish border zone known as the "Breton March".

Control over Rennes, Nantes and the Pays de Retz was secured when the Frankish army was defeated once again in 851 at the Battle of Jengland by the Bretons under Erispoe consequently Charles the Bald recognised the independence of Brittany and determined the borders that defined the historic duchy and later province. Under Erispoe's successor Salomon, Hastein's Vikings and the Bretons united as one in 865 to defeat a Frankish army at the Battle of Brissarthe, near modern-day Le Mans. Two Frankish leaders, Robert the Strong and Ranulf, were killed by the Vikings. The Franks were forced to confirm Brittany's independence from the Frankish kingdoms and expand Salomon's territory. The Vikings tactically helped their Breton allies by making devastating pillaging raids on the Frankish kingdoms. This unfortunately became a double edged sword over the next few decades as the Vikings turned on the Bretons and pillaged Brittany eventually occupying it. This situation was only overturned with the return of exiled Bretons and an alliance with the Franks. From this point Brittany became a Duchy with various levels of fealty to West Francia and eventually France.

High Middle Ages Edit

Bretons took part in the Revolt of 1173–1174, siding with the rebels against Henry II of England. Henry's son Geoffroy II, then heir apparent to the Duchy of Brittany, resisted his father's attempts to annex Brittany to the possessions of the English Crown. Geoffroy's son Arthur did likewise during his reign (1186–1203) until his death, perhaps by assassination under King John's orders.

In 1185, Geoffroy II signed "Count Geoffrey's Assise" which forbade the subdivision of fiefs, thereby reinforcing the Breton feudal system.

After the presumed death of Duke Arthur I, with Arthur's full elder sister Eleanor captive under John of England, the Bretons supported Arthur's half younger sister Alix instead. King Philip August of France married Alix to the Capetian prince Peter Mauclerc of Dreux, establishing Peter as regent of Alix.

In 1213, with the aim of strengthening his power in Brittany, Philip August introduced Peter as administrator of the duchy and tutor of his son, duke Jehan of Brittany. It was Peter Mauclerc who introduced the use of ermines in the Breton coat of arms and came to espouse the cause of his fief's independence with respect to France. While John attempted to regain Brittany in the name of Eleanor, he was defeated in 1214 and finally recognized Alix and Peter. Eleanor ended up in English prison without issue, with her claim never raised ever since.

The 14th and 15th centuries saw the recognition of the distinction between a Gallo-speaking Britannia gallicana (now called Upper Brittany) and a Breton-speaking Britannia britonizans (now Lower Brittany). [9]

The Breton War of Succession was fought 1341–1364. The parties were the half-brother of the last duke, John of Montfort (supported by the English) and his niece, Joanna of Penthièvre, who was married to Charles of Blois, nephew of the king of France. This protracted conflict, a component of the Hundred Years' War, has passed into legend (see for example Combat of the Thirty and Bertrand de Guesclin). Its outcome was decided at the Battle of Auray in 1364, where the House of Montfort was victorious over the French party. After the first Treaty of Guérande, Joanna of Penthièvre abdicated her claims to the dukedom in favour of John the Conqueror. A modified form of Salic law was introduced in Brittany as a result.

In the midst of the conflict, in 1352, the États de Bretagne or Estates of Brittany were established. They would develop into the Duchy's parlement.

Deserted by his nobles, duke John IV left for exile in England in 1373. The higher nobility of that time, like the house of Coetmen-Penthièvre, or the house of Rougé, descendants of the former kings of Brittany, strongly supported the Penthièvre side and nearly extinguished in the repeated fights between Montfort and Penthièvre's troops. The king of France Charles V named as lieutenant-general of Brittany his brother, the duke of Anjou (also a son-in-law of Joanna de Penthièvre). In 1378, the king of France sought to annex Brittany, which provoked the Bretons to recall John IV from exile. The second Treaty of Guérande (1381) established Brittany's neutrality in the Anglo-French conflict, although John continued to swear homage to Charles VI.

In 1420, duke John V was kidnapped by the count of Penthièvre, son of Joanna of Penthièvre. John's wife, duchess Joanna de France besieged the rebels and set free her husband, who confiscated the Penthièvre's goods.

In 1464 the Catholicon, a Breton-Latin-French dictionary by Jehan Lagadeuc, was published. This book was the world's first trilingual dictionary, the first Breton dictionary and also the first French dictionary.

The army of the Kingdom of France, with the help of 5,000 mercenaries from Switzerland and Italy, defeated the Breton army in 1488, and the last Duke of independent Brittany, Francis II, was forced to submit to a treaty giving the King of France the right to determine the marriage of the Duke's daughter, a 12-year-old girl, the heir to the Duchy. The Duchess Anne was the last independent ruler of the duchy as she was ultimately obliged to marry Louis XII of France. The duchy passed on her death to her daughter Claude, but Claude's husband Francis I of France incorporated the duchy into the Kingdom of France in 1532 through the Edict of Union between Brittany and France, which was registered with the Estates of Brittany.

Early modern period Edit

After 1532, Brittany retained a certain fiscal and regulatory autonomy, which was defended by the Estates of Brittany despite the rising tide of royal absolutism. Brittany remained on the whole strongly Catholic during the period of the Huguenots and the Wars of Religion, although Protestantism made some headway in Nantes and a few other areas. From 1590–98, during the War of the Catholic League, Philippe Emmanuel, Duke of Mercœur (governor of Brittany and husband of the countess of Penthièvre) sought to have himself proclaimed Duke of Brittany and allied with Philip II of Spain. The latter, on the other hand, considered establishing his daughter Isabella at the head of a reconstituted Brittany. Henry IV, however, brought Mercœur to an honourable surrender.

During the era of Colbert, Brittany benefited from France's naval expansion. Major ports were built or renovated at Saint-Malo, Brest, and Lorient, and Bretons came to constitute a leading component of the French navy. Bretons played an important role in the colonization of New France and the West Indies (see French colonisation of the Americas).

In 1675, insurgents in the diocese of Cornouaille and elsewhere rose up in the Revolt of the Bonnets Rouges. The rebels, in contact with Holland, were expecting assistance that never came. Sébastian Ar Balp, the leader of the rebellion, was assassinated by the Marquis de Montgaillard whom Ar Balp was holding prisoner. The rebellion was repressed by the duc de Chaulnes, and hundreds of Bretons were hanged or broken on the wheel. Madame de Sévigné claimed that French soldiers garrisoned in Rennes had roasted a Breton infant on a spit. A whole street in Rennes, suspected of seditiousness, was demolished leaving the inhabitants homeless. [10]

In the conspiracy of Pontcallec of 1720, members of the petty nobility in contact with Spain led a tax revolt against the Régence. The marquis de Pontcallec and three others were tried and executed in Nantes for the uprising.

During the 18th century, Nantes rose to become one of the most important commercial centres of France. The backbone of Nantes's prosperity was the Atlantic slave trade.

On 4 August 1789, the National Constituent Assembly in Paris unanimously proclaimed the abolition of feudal privileges. These included the privileges of the provinces such as Brittany. Brittany thus lost the juridical existence, autonomy, Parlement, and administrative, fiscal and legal peculiarities guaranteed since the Edict of Union of 1532. Although the Breton Club (better known as the Jacobins) in Paris had initiated the move to abolish feudal distinctions, the decision proved increasingly unpopular in Brittany, where the loss of local autonomy and the increasingly anti-clerical character of the Revolution were resented. Many Bretons took part in the Chouannerie, the royalist insurgency assisted by Great Britain and allied with the revolt in the Vendée. Brittany thus became a hotbed of resistance to the French Revolution.

The territory of Brittany was divided in 1789 into five départements, partially on the basis of earlier divisions called présidiaux which in turn had issued from medieval bailliages.

Revolutionary period Edit

Many Bretons, especially members of the merchant class, were sympathetic to the monarchy during the French Revolution. In 1791, Bretons began to plan a re-establishment of the Estates General of the province, and a return to the three-tiered system. The Marquis de la Rouërie was a significant figure in this plot but ultimately ended up in hiding after a secret agent divulged his participation to Georges Danton. [11]

Despite the obstacle posed by one of the plot's major architects going into hiding, the insurrection continued on aided by the English, as they desired access to the ports on Brittany's coast. Brittany was especially vulnerable to the British since the Breton naval fleet was weakened by September 1793 due to previous mutinies and the restructuring of the military. [12] Brittany, with its weak infrastructure, was poorly connected to the rest of France. The British only wanted to end the war with the goal of preserving "the old balance of power on the Continent.” [13] Normally, cities in Brittany were used for their naval importance, but they eventually became industrialized because of the Republic, which prepared them for war. The Committee of Public Safety was preparing to attack England as the English had significant influence in the towns of Saint-Malo and Brest, and some revolutionaries feared that these towns would give themselves up to the English as Toulon had done. [14] [11]

In light of these mounting foreign threats, the Committee of Public Safety sent Republican forces known as ‘Representatives on a Mission’ to local regions—such as Brittany—to ensure the preservation of national unity within France. [15] The function of these Representatives, by order of the National Convention, was to replace the local government leaders. In doing so, the Representatives were meant to quell anti-revolutionary sentiment. [16] The order of the National Convention on August 14, 1793 declared that these Representatives “take every measure of interior and exterior defense which they may consider necessary” contributed to the nation-wide violence experienced during the Terror. [17] Jean-Baptiste Carrier, one prominent Representative on a Mission, who had been sent to Brittany, dutifully reported to the Committee of Public Safety that he would “arrest those declared guilty of the counter-revolutionary disorders committed by this company.” [18] Pierre Louis Prieur, another such Representative on a Mission, was involved in extinguishing the uprisings in the coastal towns of Brittany such as Lorient and Vannes.

The peasants in Brittany were royalist and opposed the new government. Prieur sought to implement the authority of the Convention by arresting suspected counter-revolutionaries, removing the local authorities of Brittany, and making speeches. In Vannes, there was an unfavorable attitude towards the Revolution with only 200 of the city's population of 12,000 accepting the new constitution. Prieur declared Brittany's countryside overcome by fanaticism in order to justify terror as the new order. Prieur then infiltrated cities with troops and conducted house searches to locate and silence rebellious aristocrats and peasants. [19] While arrests were the first defense of the newly established government against counter-revolutionaries, fear quickly mounted concerning the power of this group. Quickly, leaders such as Carrier had moved from ordering arrests to ordering executions of anyone found guilty of treason against the state. [20]

Post-Revolutionary period Edit

In the 19th-century Brittany acquired a reputation for timeless autarky, as Romantics developed an image of the province as a bastion of peasant traditionalism, religious festivals, and wild landscapes. At the same time, Breton life became increasingly integrated with that of the rest of France, particularly under the Third Republic.

However, the image of Brittany as anti-republican led French politicians to doubt the reliability of Breton soldiers during the military actions that followed the collapse of the Second French Empire, as resulted from the disastrous French defeat in the Battle of Sedan during the Franco-Prussian War. Fearing Breton separatist sentiments, the soldiers were interned in a military camp, Camp Conlie, outside Le Mans. Because of bad conditions, worsened by mud and rain, several hundreds died from disease. The camp has been described as a "concentration camp" and became a significant atrocity story within Breton nationalism. In 1871 the camp was closed and the French military decided to incorporate the remaining 19,000 Breton soldiers into the 2nd Army of the Loire. They participated in the Battle of Le Mans, but poorly equipped, they were crushed by the Prussians and also blamed for the defeat by the French commanders.

Brittany has had its own regionalist and separatist movements which have experienced varying success at elections and other political contests. Modern Breton nationalism developed at the end of the 19th and beginning of the 20th century. The main body of these movements situated themselves within the Catholic traditionalist current. After 1944, Breton nationalism was widely discredited thanks to the collaboration of a number of prominent nationalists (such as Roparz Hemon) with the Nazis, who occupied Brittany along with most of the rest of the French state during the Second World War. On the other hand, other Breton nationalists took part in the Resistance. Brittany played a particularly important role in the Resistance thanks to its proximity to Great Britain, the relatively rugged landscape, and the presence of important naval installations. However, during the Second World War the Allies bombed Brittany along with the rest of Northern France with such ferocity that many towns such as Lorient nearly ceased to exist. The act involved the killing of many thousands of French citizens. In the case of Lorient, the town was not freed until the end of the war and the submarine pens were not destroyed unlike the civilian areas which had been wiped out.

When France was divided into administrative regions by the Vichy government, the official Brittany Region included only four of the five departments traditionally understood to comprise the Breton territory. This removal of Loire-Atlantique, which contains Nantes (one of the two traditional Breton capitals) from the Breton region has been a matter of much controversy.

An experimental nuclear power station was constructed at Brennilis in the Monts d'Arrée during the 1960s. This was in operation for about ten years, and since 1988 it has been in the process of being dismantled. This is the first time that a nuclear power station has been dismantled in France.

Since the 1960s in particular Breton nationalism has developed a strong leftist character, alongside the Catholic traditionalist strain. Certain groups such as the FLB and the ARB, marginal even within nationalist circles, made headlines through sabotage against highly symbolic targets.

In March 1972, workers at the Joint Français, a factory in Saint-Brieuc, went on strike to obtain a wage increase. The strike lasted eight weeks.

Since the 1940s, use of the Breton language has declined precipitously. In most Breton-speaking communities, it has become uncommon for children born since 1945 to acquire much of the language as French becomes universalized. On the other hand, Breton has enjoyed increasing support among intellectuals and professionals since the 1970s, and the relatively small, urban-based Diwan movement has sought to stem the loss of young Breton speakers through bilingual immersion schools. Breton music has also become more widely known through the work of musicians such as Alan Stivell.

On 16 March 1978, the supertanker Amoco Cadiz ran aground a few hundred metres from the shores of the small port of Portsall in Ploudalmézeau. The result was the fifth-largest oil spill in world history which severely affected the north and northwest coasts of Brittany.

In February and March 1980, the population of Plogoff, the commune containing the Pointe du Raz, demonstrated to prevent the construction of a nuclear power generator in their commune, despite the paratroopers and helicopters sent by the government. They received a wide support from the media. The power station project was abandoned after the presidential elections of 1981, which brought François Mitterrand to power.

In 2014, the Bonnets Rouges destroyed hundreds of highway speed cameras, tax portals, and tax bureau offices in their successful direct action campaign to have the "ecotaxe" abolished.


When mature, O. edulis adults range from 3.8 to 11 centimetres (1.5 to 4.3 in) across. [5]

Shells are oval or pear shaped, white, yellowish or cream in colour, with a rough surface showing pale brown or bluish concentric bands on the right valve. The two valves are quite different in shape and size, as the left one is concave and fixed to the substratum, while the right one is almost flat and fits inside the left. The inner surface is smooth, whitish or bluish-grey. [6]

Ostrea edulis are gregarious molluscs that start their lives as males. They mature sexually after eight–ten months and may change sex depending on the water temperature. Usually the lifespan can reach about six years, with a maximum of 15 years. Adult oysters feed by filtration. [7]

The species naturally ranges along the western and southern coasts of Europe from Norway to Morocco and including most of the British Isles and the Mediterranean coast. [8] Naturally viable populations have appeared in eastern North America from Maine to Rhode Island subsequent to artificial introduction in the 1940s and 1950s. [8]

Ostrea edulis can be found in estuarine and shallow coastal water with hard substrata of mud and rocks. [9]

Ostrea edulis has been harvested throughout Europe as an important food source since prehistory. [10] During Roman occupation of Britain O. edulis oysters were exported in large quantities back to Italy. [11] However, due to their robust nature and ease of cultivation the Pacific oysters, Crassostrea gigas, account for more than 75 percent of Europe's oyster production.

European flat oysters are famously grown in Brittany, France. The true Belon oyster is cultivated in the Belon River, France, and has the AOC protected name. [12] In the 1950s, Dutch scientists artificially introduced Belon oyster seed into the waters around Maine in hopes to establish a viable stock. The initial project was abandoned but ten years later natural colonies of flat oysters were found in the wild. [3] Many North American suppliers use the name 'Belon' to species that are found in the wild throughout the United States.

Ostrea edulis is now also being maricultured in the states of California, Maine, and Washington in the United States. The species once dominated European oyster production but disease, pollution, and overfishing sharply reduced the harvest. [8]

U.S. oyster growers farm O. edulis in small quantities on both coasts. They are prized for their unique tannic seawater flavour, sometimes described as dry and metallic, and are more expensive than other American oysters. [8] The flavour is considered excellent for eating raw on the half shell. [13] [14]

The abductor muscle of the European flat in combination with the shape of the shell results in a somewhat weaker seal compared with other oyster species. It is common practice to use rubber bands to prevent oysters from spilling their liquor and dehydrating in storage before consumption. [15]

Adaptation strategy workshops

Entirely turned towards the sea, Brittany's maritime traditions are linked to various activities such as coastal fishing, and the merchant and national navy but also recreational as testifies the reconstruction of many traditional Breton sailboats. Breton landscapes and seascapes are also full of signs of past activities, evidence of the prehistoric human settlements in Brittany: standing stones, megaliths, cairns, etc. Within the Breton culture and its Celtic tradition, the tangible and intangible maritime heritage is vast and is subject to many risks mainly related to climate change (sea level rise, storms, erosion, etc.) and to the anthropic pressures (tourism activities, population renewal, economic development, diversification of activities, etc.). In Brittany the first actions towards the promotion of maritime heritage were initiated by local associations (groups) and were concerning mainly the “reconstruction of old boats”, organization of sailboats festivals (Brest), and then the buildings (lighthouses, harbours, etc.) showing the maritime life of Brittany. The knowhow of traditional maritime activities (construction of boats, fishers, shellfish farmers) as intangible heritage still under construction. The different actions for the recognition and classification of the coastal cultural heritage are based on citizen initiatives or action research results.


B.1 Climate change, coastal risks and CH

B.2 I nventory and mapping of cultural heritage in the Gulf of Morbihan

B.3 Preserving and promoting the heritage of Brittany seaweed tradition

B.4 Tangible cultural heritage and landscape in land planning, urbanisation and marine spatial planning

B.5 Social history of women in fisheries as a cultural heritage in Brittany ​

What we do

B1 focuses mainly on the municipality of Locmariaquer in the Gulf of Morbihan, which has a rich maritime and coastal heritage (dikes, windmills, coastal paths, natural areas, Neolithic and Gallo-Roman remains, etc.). In this community the PNRGM has already realised the inventory the built heritage (tangible) and also produce maps of vulnerability to natural hazards in participatory approach. In consultation with the inhabitants, the objective of the DEMOS is to select two threatened sites according to their importance as heritage, emotional value as well environmental, in order to propose different collaborative scenarios for the management of this maritime heritage. The two selected sites should be located in the two different area of the municipality of Locmariaquer: one to the west of the municipality facing the Atlantic Ocean, and the second to the east of the municipality enclosed in the Gulf of Morbihan.

The objective of B3 is to trace the history of seaweed harvesting activity and the processing industry in collaboration with seaweed foot harvesters (association and working groups of professional fisher organisation) and processing industries. During last years, seaweed harvesters on foot concentrate their efforts to the recognition of this activity by the national fisheries law. Such recognition allows harvesters to manage their own activity. For the moment the “right do manage” seaweed resources is given informally. The promotion of these traditional activities as intangible cultural heritage would make possible the conservation of the resources, the continuation of this professional activity as well the preservation of Breton identity. This DEMO is mainly implemented in Finistère and partly in Côtes-d’Armor districts where harvesting and processing activities are found. In order to deeper understand the harvesting and the processing activities a bibliographic research work is undertaken at the departmental archives, as well as in the literature. This work will be complemented by a series of interviews which will provide information about the current situation.

The implementation of the DEMO B4 aims to analyse if the concepts of territory and landscape have been taken into account in the current management and planning instruments, focusing mainly on the territory of the Gulf of Morbihan. After the initial phase of identification of available tools, more in-depth interviews will be conducted with the public administrations responsible for implementation. The objective is to understand if CH is included or not in these documents. This is implemented through a master’s thesis in environmental law under the supervision of law professor involve in PERICLES. This assessment will allow the characterization of ideal of “sustainable governance” and to suggest recommendations for better integration of heritage into management and planning tools. The results of this work h will be presented at the regional workshop planned in autumn with regional and local stakeholders and administrations.

The objective of DEMO B5 is to highlight this women role of women and if possible to classify it as intangible cultural heritage in order to promote it among the younger generations. Raising awareness among citizens and stakeholders of the women invisible role played in fisheries and oyster farming will support the promotion of gender equality within these male dominated sectors. In addition, sharing of experiences between shellfish farmers’ women of good practices related to the diversification of activities will provide new material and information for them to improve their competences. Host tourist at shellfish farm is an activity providing complementary income but also of employment of the wives of oyster farmers. To achieve this objective, discussion groups and exchanges of experience between women shellfish farmers involved in tourism activities will be organised at regional level. These exchanges will help improve women skills and encourage other women to do so.

History of the monument

The Locmariaquer Megaliths consist of three separate monuments, each a major part of the megalithic heritage of the Côtes-d'Armor region: the Broken Menhir, the only remaining vestige of a vast complex of steles the Table des Marchands, which is the main capstone of a family burial chamber featuring a remarkable number of passage graves and the Er-Grah tumulus, a prestigious and monumental burial structure.

A series of archaeological digs in the late 20th century revealed much more about the chronology of the site. As a result of this scientific campaign, a range of new theories have emerged about the engraved art, architecture and history of the site during the Neolithic period.

The Broken Menhir, the most iconic of the three monuments, is the most popular attraction among visitors. Its extraordinary size, measuring around 21 metres in length and weighing an estimated 300 metric tonnes, stands testament to the incredible skill and expertise of the builders in the 5th millennium B.C.

This extraordinary monolith is a feat of incredible skill, particularly given that we now know where the stone came from: the current northern coastline of the Rhuys Peninsular, some 10 km from its current location!

The Gulf Of Morbihan – Brittany, France

Sacred places often exist in the wider context of a sacred environment that might stretch for miles around, and include a number of different sites that are places of pilgrimage or worship. The region around the Gulf of Morbihan is one such place, whose 500 and more sites represent one of the most striking examples&hellip

The Gulf Of Morbihan – Brittany, France

by Philip Carr-Gomm
We can never be born enough. We are human beings for whom birth is a supremely welcome mystery, the mystery of growing: the mystery which happens only and whenever we are faithful to ourselves.

Sacred places often exist in the wider context of a sacred environment that might stretch for miles around, and include a number of different sites that are places of pilgrimage or worship. The region around the Gulf of Morbihan is one such place, whose 500 and more sites represent one of the most striking examples of the achievements of the megalithic culture of the Neolithic period – the New Stone Age that began around 9,000 years ago.
There are so many sites to see, that a visitor must make a choice. Here we look at three of the most striking: the chambered passage-grave of Gavrinis, that now stands on its own island and boasts entrancing carvings on most of the stones that line its walls the beautifully carved Table des Marchands that lies beside the Great Broken Menhir that once stood over 20 metres (65 ft) high and was part of an alignment of 19 stones and the famous massed rows of stones at nearby Carnac, which continue to baffle researchers.
Although these monuments retain their secrets there is one element that seems clearly present in the alignments of the standing stones and the tumuli: somehow the builders of these sites were marrying their observations of the heavens with their constructions. Star, moon and sunlight was used to position massive stones to create sites that may have served as observatories in addition to any other function.
In creating tombs within mounds of earth, there is the inescapable feeling that our ancestors were also creating temples to life rather than death. Emerging from Gavrinis at dawn on the Winter solstice, or from the Table des Marchands on the summer solstice, who could fail to feel reborn?
You may forget but
Let me tell you
this: someone in
some future time
will think of us.
Sappho 6th cent BC
The whole of Brittany is filled with megalithic remains, which stand as silent witnesses to its magical past peopled by Druids, King Arthur and the wizard Merlin, whose legends migrated from Great Britain to the Little Britain of Brittany with the Norman conquest. Not far south from the forest of Broceliande, the focus of these legends, lies ‘Ar Mor Bihan’ – Breton for ‘the little sea’.
Legends state that there were once 365 islands in this great natural harbour, but today only 40 or so can be seen at low tide. 25 of these are inhabited. If you take one of the tourist boats out into this sea you will have the opportunity to visit one of the most remarkable chambered tombs in the world.
Step off the boat on to the island of Gavrinis and you find yourself face to face with the ancestors. Only the most insensitive visitor will fail to be moved as they enter the great mound that stands not far from the jetty, and that draws them in to its heart with a pull that is primal, magnetic.
Gavrinis is just one of 500 prehistoric monuments that can be found within this area of Brittany that stretches from Carnac on the west coast to the eastern shores of the Morbihan, but if you had to choose just three of these sites to visit it would be wise to experience Gavrinis, the Table des Marchands in nearby Locmariaquer, and the great stone avenues of Carnac to the west.
A Great Coastal Plain
7000 years ago the whole area provided the perfect environment for human settlement. Since the polar ice-caps were larger than today, the sea level was 7 to 8 metres lower than it is now and the Gulf was a great coastal plain, ideal for cultivation, that contained a much smaller and shallow inland sea that would have been ideal for fishing.
It was only as sea levels rose that Gavrinis became marooned on its own island, and this dramatic change in the landscape can be seen on the island adjacent: half of a stone circle lies above the high tide on the shore while its other half is submerged in the water.
The cairn of Gavrinis is remarkable because many of the stones, 23 in all, that line the tomb and its entrance passage are ornately carved with great swirls and shapes that have intrigued scholars for over 150 years. Amongst the patterns they have identified highly schematised human figures, snakes, arrows and axes. Entering only by the torch light provided by the guide, the swirling lines are reminiscent of giant fingerprints, and some researchers believe that these shapes, along with many others found in megalithic temple-tombs, act as ‘entoptic phenomena’ – images designed to induce trances or altered states of consciousness.
The entrance to the tomb is orientated to the winter solstice sunrise, just like its counterpart in Ireland, Newgrange, which was built at about the same time, and whose kerbstone is similarly engraved with swirling spiral shapes.
The Secrets of the Capstone
In 1984 archaeologists examined the upper, hidden, side of the capstone of the of Gavrinis and found carvings on it that married with two other great lengths of stone that were 4 km (2.5 miles) away in Locmariaquer.
Initially these three lengths formed one great standing stone, known as a menhir in France, that was 14m (46 ft) high. At some time in prehistory it was broken or broke into three sections that were used to cover three different tombs. Near to this soaring menhir was another even taller – Le Grand Menhir Brise (the Great Broken Menhir) whose 355 tons have now fallen into 4 pieces. It was originally the highest of an alignment of 19 menhirs, and stood over 20 metres (66 ft) tall, making it one of Europe’s greatest megalithic achievements.
While one section of its smaller twin came to form the roof of Gavrinis, another capped the roof of a tumulus built beside the Great Broken Menhir. The entrance to this tomb is orientated to the summer solstice sunrise, and is known as the Table des Marchands, after the extraordinary stone of the same name that faces you once you enter its inner sanctum.
Originally this stone may well have been displayed in the open air, since both sides are carved. Hidden from view today is a central image of a square with a crescent moon shape beneath and two semi-circles above. At its base, now buried in the earth, are those symbols found in many examples of rock art: squiggly lines with ‘heads’ resembling sperm, and circles like ova. Although invisible to the human eye it is tempting to believe that Stone Age people somehow intuited these primal forms.
The side of the stone that faces you is vibrant and emanates a sense of fertility, as if drawing upon the primal images concealed in the earth. No-one knows what, if anything, the rows of lines represent: it could be shepherd’s crooks, which have been identified on other stones as far away as Portugal, plants or trees, or perhaps a depiction of the avenues of stones at Carnac.
The Great Avenues of Stone
Carnac is near the Atlantic coast, 13km (8 miles) from the Table des Marchands. Here more than 3,000 standing stones are laid out in long lines, prompting the local legend that they are a Roman legion turned to stone by Merlin. Certainly they are reminiscent of the great stone army of China where 6,000 terracotta men and horses protect the tomb of the Emperor in Xi’an city.
The great rows of stones were erected in the Neolithic period, with the greatest period of activity probably being around 3,300 BC. Today the existence of roads, fences around sections of the site, and a village diminish the experience of being amongst the stones, but a day spent exploring the alignments is still rewarding.
As with so many features of the megalithic culture we can only guess at the motivation and technology of the builders. Mysteriously, no trace of neolithic dwellings remain in the area, and there was an abrupt cessation of activity in around 3,000 BC perhaps prompted by warfare or climate change. Some scholars have suggested that successive generations might have erected stones in honour of their ancestors, so that the site represent a vast tribute to the dead. Sacred sites researcher Paul Devereux speculates that the lines of stones, like their smaller cousins in England on Dartmoor, are ‘Spirit paths’ or roads for the dead, built to help guide souls out of this world, or to assist the soul-flight of shamans during their trances. Quite why so many lines would be needed remains unclear, but what is certain is that this whole area was one vast sacred site for over a thousand years, and can still be for pilgrims today who wish to visit these places with an attitude of reverence and awe.

To receive vital energies and legitimize the activities of earthly life, Neolithic peoples in western Europe turned to the maternal principle, representing the creative spirit. They also called on male authority, symbolized by attributes of the power of intercession. Finally, they sought the secrets of astral, solar and lunar cycles, thus seeking some form of participation in the dynamics of time and eternal renewal.
Jean-Pierre Mohen, The World of Megaliths
4500-c.3000 BC Carnac alignments built.
3900 -3800 BC – Table des Marchands tumulus probably built around this time.
3500 BC – Gavrinis probably built around this time.
3300 BC – Peak period of Carnac activity.
1811 AD First investigation of Table des Marchands in modern times. Objects found have since disappeared.
1832 – The owner of the Gavrinis island starts to explore the monument
1883, 1937, 1985, 1991 – Table des Marchands restored
1889 – Table des Marchands classed as a historic monument
1979 -1984 – Gavrinis fully excavated and restored

Unlock the secrets of the great megalithic sites

Not many people know that Morbihan is home to a priceless treasure: the world’s largest concentration of megalithic sites all in one place. This heritage is surrounded by stories and legends that make visitors of all ages keen to find out more.

© Emmanuel Berthier © Emmanuel Berthier

Carnac and its mysterious alignments of menhirs

Arriving by road, you can’t miss seeing fields of menhirs stretching out for 4 km. These stones are perfectly aligned and were deliberately placed there sometime in the Neolithic period. The mystery surrounding their original function is fascinating. If you want to find out more, visit the discovery centre, the ‘Maison des Mégalithes’, where you’ll find exhibitions, films and interactive displays explaining the various aspects of the stones. Guided tours will help you to appreciate the complexity of the site, while children can join in role-playing activities based on every day and prehistoric scenarios. From sunrise to sunset, the atmosphere changes and the stones work their magic.

© Alexandre Lamoureux © Les Globe Blogueurs © Les Globe Blogueurs

Locmariaquer, a super-size menhir

Visiting the Locmariaquer megalithic site is a moving experience. One of the stones, the great Er Grah broken menhir, is very curious. It lies on the ground in four pieces but once stood 20 metres high and weighed 300 tonnes. The stone always amazes visitors, whatever their age. It’s incredible to imagine how it was transported back then, and the same goes for the other 18 monumental standing stones. The ‘Table des marchands’ (Merchants’ Table) looks like a great hiding-place for kids playing hide-and-seek, but it’s actually a fine example of a collective tumulus passage grave, decorated with astonishing carvings. Together with the Er Grah tumulus, a monumental example of funerary architecture, it forms a remarkable site that will give you plenty of food for thought.

© Les Globe Blogueurs © Alexandre Lamoureux

The Gavrinis tumulus, a hidden treasure

Some of the Morbihan megaliths are hidden away, which is the case for the Gavrinis tumulus. When it was erected, its position on a high point meant that it was easily seen, but today it is hidden by pine-trees and can only be accessed by boat. When you enter the site, you’ll immediately notice the beauty of the carved stelæ, the ancient gravestones. Although some of the designs are used several times, each stone reveals the work of an artist with a unique style. Your visit will let you step out of time, giving you a lesson in prehistory in a pastoral setting.

A surprising bit of trivia is that one of the stones in the tumulus roof is part of a gravestone from the ‘Table des Marchands’ passage grave at Locmariaquer. It just goes to show that even back then they were thinking about recycling!

To visit nearby: the Château de Suscinio

This medieval castle rising up out of the marshes and woodland is a perfect place for a family outing. Rooted in its own time, the castle offers an interactive exhibition about local history and legends. If you take a walk or bike ride along one of the pathways across the marshland that surrounds the castle, you’ll find an unexpected wealth of plants and wildlife.

© Les Globe Blogueurs

The J. Paul Getty Museum

(Verso, mount) inscribed in blue ink, at left center, by Strand: "Maisons. Lochmariaquer. Finestere [sic] / 1950" in pencil, at upper right: "#371" in pencil,at upper right corner: "P.S." (sideways) in pencil, at upper left edge: "FR-ARCH-1062 [space] TI" at upper left corner, in blue ballpoint ink: "10 [encircled and crossed-out in pencil]" in pencil, at upper left: "4 [encircled]" in pencil, at upper center: "4 (written sideways) / mat 15 3/8 x 19 1/8 [underlined]"

Object Type:
Three Roads Taken: The Photographs of Paul Strand (May 10, 2005 to June 10, 2006)
  • The J. Paul Getty Museum at the Getty Center (Los Angeles), May 10 to September 4, 2005
  • Musée d'Art Américain (Giverny), April 1 to June 10, 2006

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Watch the video: Le cairn de Gavrinis numérisé en 3D (August 2022).