Megaliths in Brittany

Carnac Stones

Carnac stones are an exceptionally dense collection of megalithic sites around the village of Carnac, consisting of alignments, dolmens, tumuli and single menhirs. More than 3,000 prehistoric standing stones were hewn from local rock and erected by the pre-Celtic people of Brittany, and are the largest such collection in the world. Most of the stones are within the Breton village of Carnac, but some to the east are within ...
Founded: 4500 - 3300 BC | Location: Carnac, France

Locmariaquer Megaliths

The Locmariaquer megaliths are a complex of Neolithic constructions. They comprise the elaborate Er-Grah tumulus passage grave, a dolmen known as the 'Table des Marchand' (Merchant"s Table) and 'The Broken Menhir of Er Grah', the largest known single block of stone to have been transported and erected by Neolithic man. The Broken Menhir of Er Grah was erected around 4700 BC, at the same time as a ...
Founded: 4700 BC | Location: Locmariaquer, France

Barnenez Cairn

The Cairn of Barnenez is the largest Megalithic mausoleum in Europe. It dates from the early Neolithic Age is considered one of the earliest megalithic monuments in Europe. It is also remarkable for the presence of megalithic art. Radiocarbon dates indicate that the first phase of the monument was erected between 4850 and 4250 BC, and the second phase between 4450 and 4000 BC. Pottery found in and around the monument indi ...
Founded: 4850 - 4000 BC | Location: Plouezoc'h, France

Kerzerho Megaliths

There are 195 megaliths in Kerzerho, aligned east to west. They extend over 200 metres in 5 rows. Dating from between 5,000 to 2,000 BC, they have of course suffered over the years. In fact only a few centuries ago there were 1130 stones in 11 rows: the structure must have been 2 kilometres long by 65 metres wide.
Founded: 5000 - 2000 BC | Location: Erdeven, France

St. Michel Tumulus

The Tumulus of St. Michel is a megalithic grave mound, located east of Carnac. The 125m long, 60m wide and 10m high mound is the largest grave mound in continental Europe. The age of the monument, and the chronology of the construction of the central burial-chambers and outlying dolmen have been the subject of much speculation. Ancient samples were radiocarbon dated, but the results were too disparate to be significant. R ...
Founded: 4500 BC | Location: Carnac, France

Champ-Dolent Menhir

The menhir, or upright standing stone, of Champ Dolent is the largest standing stone in Brittany. It is located in a field outside the town of Dol-de-Bretagne, and is nearly 9 meters high. The stone was taken from a site 4 kilometers away. It has a smaller polished stone at its base.
Founded: | Location: Dol-de-Bretagne, France

Crucuno Dolmen

Crucuno dolmen is one of the most well known dolmens in the Brittany. The rectangular chamber is about 4 metres by 3.5 metres, covered by a single massive capstone which measures over 7 metres in length, perched on top of 9 support stones, with easily enough room to stand upright inside. The enormous capstone is 7.6 metres in length and weighs about 40 tons. Unfortunately, a century or so ago, a house was built right next ...
Founded: | Location: Plouharnel, France

Le Petit Mont

Dating from c. 4600 BC at the earliest, Le Petit Mont is one of the most significant Cairns in Brittany, but unfortunately one of the most brutaly vandalized. The cairn measures 60 meters in length, 46 meters in width, and between 6 and 7 meters in height. It is built over several dolmens with antechambers. The dolmen in the southwest has engravings that include axes in circles, fitted axes, and undulating signs. The Roma ...
Founded: 4600 BC | Location: Arzon, France

Gavrinis Passage Grave

The Gavrinis island is famous because of its important passage grave, a megalithic monument from the Neolithic period, belonging to the same broad context as the Breton megaliths of Carnac and Locmariaquer. At the time of its construction, c. 3500 BC, the island was still connected with the mainland. The rich internal decorations make Gavrinis one of the major treasuries of European megalithic art. The tomb is also remark ...
Founded: 3500 BC | Location: Larmor-Baden, France

Kergavat Dolmen

The Dolmen de Kergavat has a large chamber and huge single capstone. It is located right beside the busy D.781 road.
Founded: | Location: Plouharnel, France

Rondossec Dolmens

There is a group of three is a simple passage tombs in Rondossec. The southern dolmen is a smallest, partly collapsed. The central wedge-shaped dolmen has a 6-metre chamber with engravings. The northern dolmen has an 11-metre long passage and a small side-chamber. Gold necklace, vases and stone axes were buried in the dolmen.
Founded: | Location: Plouharnel, France

Mane Braz

Mane Braz is a Megalithic tomb located 2 km southeast of Erdeven. The site comprises four side chambers and two small dolmens. It is built into a hill and appears to be the remains of a tumulus.
Founded: 5000 - 3000 BC | Location: Erdeven, France

Featured Historic Landmarks, Sites & Buildings

Historic Site of the week

Porta Nigra

The Porta Nigra (Latin for black gate) is the largest Roman city gate north of the Alps. It is designated as part of the Roman Monuments, Cathedral of St. Peter and Church of Our Lady in Trier UNESCO World Heritage Site. The name Porta Nigra originated in the Middle Ages due to the darkened colour of its stone; the original Roman name has not been preserved. Locals commonly refer to the Porta Nigra simply as Porta.

The Porta Nigra was built in grey sandstone between 186 and 200 AD. The original gate consisted of two four-storied towers, projecting as near semicircles on the outer side. A narrow courtyard separated the two gate openings on either side. For unknown reasons, however, the construction of the gate remained unfinished. For example, the stones at the northern (outer) side of the gate were never abraded, and the protruding stones would have made it impossible to install movable gates. Nonetheless, the gate was used for several centuries until the end of the Roman era in Trier.

In Roman times, the Porta Nigra was part of a system of four city gates, one of which stood at each side of the roughly rectangular Roman city. The Porta Nigra guarded the northern entry to the Roman city, while the Porta Alba (White Gate) was built in the east, the Porta Media (Middle Gate) in the south, and the Porta Inclyta (Famous Gate) in the west, next to the Roman bridge across the Moselle. The gates stood at the ends of the two main streets of the Roman Trier, one of which led north-south and the other east-west. Of these gates, only the Porta Nigra still exists today.

In the early Middle Ages the Roman city gates were no longer used for their original function and their stones were taken and reused for other buildings. Also iron and lead braces were broken out of the walls of the Porta Nigra for reuse. Traces of this destruction are still clearly visible on the north side of the gate.

After 1028, the Greek monk Simeon lived as a hermit in the ruins of the Porta Nigra. After his death (1035) and sanctification, the Simeonstift monastery was built next to the Porta Nigra to honor him. Saving it from further destruction, the Porta Nigra was transformed into a church: The inner court of the gate was roofed and intermediate ceilings were inserted. The two middle storeys of the former gate were converted into church naves: the upper storey being for the monks and the lower storey for the general public. The ground floor with the large gates was sealed, and a large outside staircase was constructed alongside the south side (the town side) of the gate, up to the lower storey of the church. A small staircase led further up to the upper storey. The church rooms were accessible through former windows of the western tower of the Porta Nigra that were enlarged to become entrance doors (still visible today). The top floor of the western tower was used as church tower, the eastern tower was leveled, and an apse added at its east side. An additional gate - the much smaller Simeon Gate - was built adjacent to the East side of the Porta Nigra and served as a city gate in medieval times.

In 1802 Napoleon Bonaparte dissolved the church in the Porta Nigra and the monastery beside it, along with the vast majority of Trier"s numerous churches and monasteries. On his visit to Trier in 1804, Napoleon ordered that the Porta Nigra be converted back to its Roman form. Only the apse was kept; but the eastern tower was not rebuilt to its original height. Local legend has it that Napoleon originally wanted to completely tear down the church, but locals convinced him that the church had actually been a Gaulish festival hall before being turned into a church. Another version of the story is that they told him about its Roman origins, persuading him to convert the gate back to its original form.

In 1986 the Porta Nigra was designated a World Heritage Site, along with other Roman monuments in Trier and its surroundings. The modern appearance of the Porta Nigra goes back almost unchanged to the reconstruction ordered by Napoleon. At the south side of the Porta Nigra, remains of Roman columns line the last 100 m of the street leading to the gate. Positioned where they had stood in Roman times, they give a slight impression of the aspect of the original Roman street that was lined with colonnades. The Porta Nigra, including the upper floors, is open to visitors.