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.
It is not precisely dated, but recent scholarship suggests that Brittany's menhirs were erected c. 5000-4000 BC.
According to legend, the menhir fell from the skies to separate two feuding brothers who were on the point of killing each other. This legend is said to account for the name "Champ Dolent" which means "Field of Sorrow". In reality, the word dolent is more likely to derive from Breton dolenn ("meadow").
Another legend states that the menhir is slowly sinking into the ground, and the world will end when it disappears altogether.
According to tradition, in the year 560 Chlothar I, King of the Franks, is said to have met his rebel son, Chram, here.References:
The Abbey of Saint-Etienne, also known as Abbaye aux Hommes ('Men"s Abbey'), is a former monastery dedicated to Saint Stephen (Saint Étienne). It is considered, along with the neighbouring Abbaye aux Dames ('Ladies" Abbey'), to be one of the most notable Romanesque buildings in Normandy. Like all the major abbeys in Normandy, it was Benedictine.
Lanfranc, before being an Archbishop of Canterbury, was abbot of Saint-Etienne. Built in Caen stone during the 11th century, the two semi-completed churches stood for many decades in competition. An important feature added to both churches in about 1120 was the ribbed vault, used for the first time in France. The two abbey churches are considered forerunners of the Gothic architecture. The original Romanesque apse was replaced in 1166 by an early Gothic chevet, complete with rosette windows and flying buttresses. Nine towers and spires were added in the 13th century. The interior vaulting shows a similar progression, beginning with early sexpartite vaulting (using circular ribs) in the nave and progressing to quadipartite vaults (using pointed ribs) in the sanctuary.
The two monasteries were finally donated by William the Conqueror and his wife, Matilda of Flanders, as penalty for their marriage against the Pope"s ruling. William was buried here; Matilda was buried in the Abbaye aux Dames. Unfortunately William"s original tombstone of black marble, the same kind as Matilda"s in the Abbaye aux Dames, was destroyed by the Calvinist iconoclasts in the 16th century and his bones scattered.
As a consequence of the Wars of Religion, the high lantern tower in the middle of the church collapsed and was never rebuilt. The Benedictine abbey was suppressed during the French Revolution and the abbey church became a parish church. From 1804 to 1961, the abbey buildings accommodated a prestigious high school, the Lycée Malherbe. During the Normandy Landings in 1944, inhabitants of Caen found refuge in the church; on the rooftop there was a red cross, made with blood on a sheet, to show that it was a hospital (to avoid bombings).