Carnac Stones

Carnac, France

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 La Trinité-sur-Mer. The stones were erected at some stage during the Neolithic period, probably around 3300 BC, but some may date to as old as 4500 BC.

Although the stones date from 4500 BC, modern myths were formed which resulted from 1st century AD Roman and later Christian occupations, such as Saint Cornelius – a Christian myth associated with the stones held that they were pagan soldiers in pursuit of Pope Cornelius when he turned them to stone. Brittany has its own local versions of the Arthurian cycle. Local tradition claims that the reason they stand in such perfectly straight lines is that they are a Roman legion turned to stone by Merlin.

In recent centuries, many of the sites have been neglected, with reports of dolmens being used as sheep shelters, chicken sheds or even ovens. Even more commonly, stones have been removed to make way for roads, or as building materials. The continuing management of the sites remains a controversial topic.

References:

Comments

Your name

Website (optional)



Address

Rue du Ménec, Carnac, France
See all sites in Carnac

Details

Founded: 4500 - 3300 BC
Category: Prehistoric and archaeological sites in France
Historical period: Prehistoric Age (France)

Rating

4.2/5 (based on Google user reviews)

User Reviews

Mark Stanton (15 months ago)
Best visited when no school children around, very spiritual place when quiet and calm
Bee Ballantyne (2 years ago)
One of the most fascinating places on the planet. Recommend a little hop on hop off "train" ride around the location to start with.
Thomas Sant (2 years ago)
Hard to appreciate the wow factor here without taking some time to see the sites on foot, bicycle, or dare I say it even using the little train. However it is worth a visit even if just driving past to see the scale of the site. Would love to return out of season when less of the site is fenced off.
Ian Jindal (2 years ago)
Surprise. Just some stones? Actually, 4km of aligned stones in three areas. Visitor centre that’s compact and a well-signposted set of walks. We caught the train and it was informative and interesting. In cooler weather a walk would be great - bring water since there are no shops or cafes. The site is well maintained. If you’re in the area it’s a must. Even our teenagers dropped the attitude and got interested in why people lined up 20-ton stones 6,500 years ago.
Carol Fisher (2 years ago)
Very interesting and span over approx 4km. Slightly disappointed that you were unable to walk among them during peak season unless you pay. Off peak you can wander for free. Would recommend you explore the area around this as we visited several sites which had no restrictions and were less busy and just as interesting. The info centre is well worth a visit.
Powered by Google

Featured Historic Landmarks, Sites & Buildings

Historic Site of the week

Kromeriz Castle and Gardens

Kroměříž stands on the site of an earlier ford across the River Morava. The gardens and castle of Kroměříž are an exceptionally complete and well-preserved example of a European Baroque princely residence and its gardens and described as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

The first residence on the site was founded by bishop Stanislas Thurzo in 1497. The building was in a Late Gothic style, with a modicum of Renaissance detail. During the Thirty Years' War, the castle was sacked by the Swedish army (1643).

It was not until 1664 that a bishop from the powerful Liechtenstein family charged architect Filiberto Lucchese with renovating the palace in a Baroque style. The chief monument of Lucchese's work in Kroměříž is the Pleasure Garden in front of the castle. Upon Lucchese's death in 1666, Giovanni Pietro Tencalla completed his work on the formal garden and had the palace rebuilt in a style reminiscent of the Turinese school to which he belonged.

After the castle was gutted by a major fire in March 1752, Bishop Hamilton commissioned two leading imperial artists, Franz Anton Maulbertsch and Josef Stern, arrived at the residence in order to decorate the halls of the palace with their works. In addition to their paintings, the palace still houses an art collection, generally considered the second finest in the country, which includes Titian's last mythological painting, The Flaying of Marsyas. The largest part of the collection was acquired by Bishop Karel in Cologne in 1673. The palace also contains an outstanding musical archive and a library of 33,000 volumes.

UNESCO lists the palace and garden among the World Heritage Sites. As the nomination dossier explains, 'the castle is a good but not outstanding example of a type of aristocratic or princely residence that has survived widely in Europe. The Pleasure Garden, by contrast, is a very rare and largely intact example of a Baroque garden'. Apart from the formal parterres there is also a less formal nineteenth-century English garden, which sustained damage during floods in 1997.

Interiors of the palace were extensively used by Miloš Forman as a stand-in for Vienna's Hofburg Imperial Palace during filming of Amadeus (1984), based on the life of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, who actually never visited Kroměříž. The main audience chamber was also used in the film Immortal Beloved (1994), in the piano concerto scene.