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The Megaliths of Carnac

Dolmen / Passage and Gallery Graves

The dolmen are megalithic tombs built of stone. Most were probably covered by a mound of earth and/or stone. The older ones were family or community graves, used over many generations. The oldest dolmen in the Carnac area was built 1000 years before the pyramids in Egypt.

There are two main types of dolmen: passage graves which were covered by circular mounds and gallery graves which were covered by long mounds (called round barrows and long barrows in Britain). Most of the dolmen in the Carnac region are passage graves. Other large groups of passage graves are found in southern and western Spain, southern England and in central Ireland. Gallery graves are more widely distributed throughout France and the rest of Europe, especially in northern Germany, Scandinavia and Britain. There are some particularly large gallery tombs in the Loire Valley in France.

The simplest and oldest form of passage graves is a round or rectangular chamber connected to the entrance by a corridor. The passage was lined with upright stones covered by horizontal lintels. The chamber, also lined by large stones, was roofed either by huge, flat stones called capstones or by a corbelled dome. Some of the capstones weigh 40 - 50 tons.

Later three variations of the simple passage dolmen evolved. The wedge-shaped dolmen had no distinct separation between the passage and chamber; the passage was simply wider at the inner end than at the entrance. The second type is a very long wedge-shaped tomb with a bend of up to 90° about half way along the passage. In the transeptual passage dolmen, one or more side chambers open off the passage near the inner end. This last type is not very common around Carnac but is the major type in Ireland and the Orkney Islands north of Scotland.

The gallery tomb is a long rectangle, often divided into compartments by slabs of rock, and covered by a long mound of earth and stone. They are either roofed with large capstones or the walls are inclined to rest against each other forming a triangular chamber.

The map below shows the locations of major dolmen in the region around Carnac and the Gulf of Morbihan. There are more dolmen than are shown here; some are badly destroyed, others inaccessible in woods or farmer's fields and still others not marked on maps and only found by pure luck. We could not find all the dolmen marked on our maps. Hopefully more will be located and photographed in future trips to Carnac.

Map of laocations of dolmen in the Carnac region

Simple Passage Dolmen (Arranged from west to east)

Crucuno
Crucuno dolmen
Crucuno dolmen
About half way between Plouharnel and Erdevan in Crucuno village
1864 description says chamber plus passage was 27 metres
Only chamber remains today; until lately was used as henhouse and storage shed
Rondossec
Rondossec dolmen
Rondossec dolmen
Plouharnel
Southern dolmen of group of three is a simple passage tomb
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
Kergavat
Kergavat dolmen

About 1 km SE of Plouharnel, on the road to Carnac
Chamber has a huge capstone
Passage has disappeared

Kerroch
Kerroch dolmen
Kerroch - passage stones

In the town of Kerroch, 1 km SSE of Plouharnel
The capstone has fallen into chamber on one side
The stones from the passage can be seen in the wall across the street (lower photo)

Cosquer
Cosquer dolmen
Cosquer dolmen

About 3.5 km N of Plouharnel, at village of Cosquer
Chamber still has its huge capstone and a bit of its passage

Runesto
Runesto dolmen

About 2.5 km NE of Plouharnel, at village of Runesto
Chamber has a massive capstone
Passage has disappeared
Engravings

Quéric la Lande
Quéric la Lande - east dolmen
East dolmen
Quéric la Lande - west dolmen
West dolmen
About 5 km north of Le Ménec village, about 1 km east of Le Hahon village
The stone circle at the west end of the Le Ménec alignments, the Mané Kerioned dolmens and the Quéric la Lande dolmens lie on a north-south line
In the upper photo, the west dolmen is just visible at the right tip of the capstone
The west dolmen, often used to hold hay for the cattle, is in a very bad state
Nautério
Nautério dolmen
Just north of village of Nautério, about 1 km SW of Mané Kerioned and Keriaval dolmens
Badly overgrown
There is supposed to be another dolmen and menhir in a woods 1 km SE of Nauério - we couldn't find it
Carnac - Cruz Menquen
Carnac - Cruz Menquen dolmen
Northern outskirts of Carnac, about 500 metres SE of Le Ménec alignments
A cement cross has been stuck on the capstone
The passage has disappeared

Mané Brizil
Mané Brizil dolmen
About 1 km NW of Le Moustoir tumulus
In woods beside private house
Chamber capstone is missing
Rosnual
Rosnual dolmen
About 1 km north of the Kermario dolmen
Has deteriorated badly in the last 20 years

Kermario
Kermario dolmen
Southwest end of Kermario alignments (photo on homepage)
Older than alignments
Amber beads and stone axes found buried in dolmen
Kerluir About 1 km south of Kermario dolmen
On small hill covered with thorns and brambles (we didn't find it)
St. Michel tumulus, Kerluir dolmen and Kercado tumulus on a line parallel to Kermario alignments
Fine menhir to west
Le Moustoir
Entrance to Le Moustoir dolmen
Tumulus, 2 km north of Kermario alignments, contains two dolmen
One is a simple passage dolmen with an engraved axe
The other seems to have side chambers but the passage may have been built recently (also listed as 2 burial chambers)
Has menhir on top and one at west end
Kercado
Kercado tumulus
South of west end of Kerlescan alignments, northeast of Carnac
Engraved stones in dolmen
Covered by 25m-diameter tumulus, supported by kerb stones, surrounded by 35m-diameter stone circle, topped by menhir

Rohfeutet or Roc'h Feutet
Rohfeutet dolmen
At edge of woods half a km west of La Madelaine chapel
La Madelaine
La Madelaine dolmen
Near La Madelaine chapel, northeast of Carnac
Passage has been destroyed, capstone dislodged
Kervilor
Kervilor dolmen
SSE of Le Petit Ménec alignments and Kervilor village
Passage is missing
Kerdro Vihan
Kerdro Vihan dolmen
In La Trinité-sur-Mer, up the hill SW of the sport grounds
Parc Er Gueren
Parc Er Gueren dolmen
About 500 metres NE of Luffang, near Crac'h
Circular chamber is missing its capstone
A second dolmen about 20 metres to the north has a huge circular chamber, no capstone, very overgrown
Kercadoret Northeast of Kerveresse and Locmariaquer
One of oldest dolmen in Locmariaquer
Kerveresse Northwest of Locmariaquer
One of oldest dolmen in the region
Engravings
Kerlud
Kerlud dolmen
West of Locmariaquer
Only chamber with massive capstone remains
Mané Lud
Mane Lud dolmen
Locmariaquer, 200 metres north of the Marchand's Table
Fine engravings - boats, face?
Mané Lud, Kercadoret, Mané Rutual and Kerveresse are the oldest dolmen in Locmariaquer
La Table de Marchand
(Marchand's Table)

Table de Marchand
Marchand's Table 1983
In Locmariaquer beside Le Grand Menhir Brisé menhir and Er Grah tumulus
Chamber capstone, a piece of the same stone as Gavr'Inis capstone, is engraved with an axe and an animal (antelope?)
Rear upright stone of chamber is beautifully engraved with hook-shaped forms (grain?)
Pottery was found on either side of the entrance
Circular mound supported by 2 rings of granite blocks (reconstructed in the late 1980s)
Archaeologists discovered the floor hearths and postholes of an earlier building under the mound and the holes of an alignment of 16 upright stones on the northwest side
The lower photo was taken in 1983, before restoration of the site

Mané Rutual
Mane Rutual dolmen
Locmariaquer, 300 metres southeast of the Marchand's Table
Enormous capstone weighs 50 tonnes
It and Mané Lud are probably the oldest dolmen in Locmariaquer
Engravings
Gavr'Inis
Entrance to Gavr'Inis dolmen
On island in Gulf of Morbihan, reached by boat from Larmor-Baden
Chamber is 3.5 meters square, passage is about 15 m long
Capstone weighs 40 tons and is a piece of the same rock used to roof the Marchand's Table and Er Grah dolmen at Locmariaquer
23 of the 29 supporting stones and the capstone are engraved; the symbols used are found at neolithic (New Stone Age) sites from Scotland and Scandinavia to the Canary Islands.
The tumulus covering the dolmen is a stepped pyramid 55 meters in diameter (see Tumuli page)
This is one of the most beautifully engraved dolmen in Europe
Le Petit Mont
Entrance to Petit Mont dolman
Southwest end of Rhys peninsula
Tumulus contained at least 3 passage graves
The southwest dolmen is engraved with axes, circles and serpentine lines. Unfortunately not open when we were there, so photo taken through fence
One of the dolmen was destroyed in 1943 when the Germans build a bunker in it
Grah Niaul
Grah Niaul dolmen
Grah Niaul dolmen
Western end of Rhys peninsula, 500 metres WNW of Arzon
Menhir at entrance
Contains engraved stones
Île Longue Dolmen at southern end of Île Longue, island west of Gavr'Inis in Gulf of Morbihan
Engraved stones
Île aux Moines and Penhap Île aux Moines, largest island in Gulf of Morbihan, has at least 3 dolmen, a menhir, and a stone circle
Penhap dolmen, NW of Penhap village, is largest and best preserved dolmen on the island and has engraved stones

Wedge Dolmen

Rondessec
Rondossec dolmen
In Plouharnel, a mound with 3 dolmen
The central dolmen is wedge-shaped
Mané Kerioned
Mané Kerioned dolmen
Mané Kerrioned dolmen
4 km NE of Plouharnel
3 dolmen, all wedge-shaped
Western dolmen (upper photo) is 9 metres long
Centre dolmen is at right angles to the other 2, forming a U-shape
The eastern, underground dolmen has several engraved stones
Remains of cromlech or outer wall of tumulus - stone in foreground of upper photo - surrounding the 3 dolmen

Angled-wedge Dolmen

Luffang
Luffang - angled passage dolmen
Luffang - angled passage dolmen
West of town of Crac'h on east bank of Rivière de Crac'h
All the capstones are missing
Often listed as a covered alley but closed end is definitely wider than open end (upper photo)
Has definite bend in passage like Pièrres Plates (lower photo was taken at bend)
Engravings - some of engraved stones are in the museum in Carnac
Les Pièrres Plates
Les Pierres Plates
Les Pierre Plates
On coast 1 km south of Locmariaquer
Wedge-shaped with 120° angle
Additional chamber at bend
Several of the supporting stones are beautifully engraved
"Menhir" at entrance (lower photo) was a lintel
Le Rocher
Entrance to Le Rocher dolmen
Tumulus southwest of Le Bono on east bank of Rivière d'Auray
Engravings
Toulvern
toulvern tumulus, entrance to dolmen
About 2 km south of Baden
Two dolmen in the remains of a tumulus
One dolmen has all its capstones; it has a definite bend in the passage

Transept Dolmen

Mané Braz
Mane Bras dolmen
Mane Bras
Mane Bras
2 km southeast of Erdeven and 1.5 km east of Kerzerho alignments. Slightly more than 1 km northwest of Mané Groh
4 side chambers
At least 2 other smaller dolmen in group
Dolmen are built in and on a hill which looks like the remains of a tumulus

Mané Croc'h or Mané Groh
Mane Groh dolmen
Mane Groh

Mane Groh

2 km south east of Kerzerho alignments, about 1 km north of Crucuno village
6-m long passage with 4 transeptual chambers near inner end
Pottery found in dolmen dates to 2000 BC
Coffin grave behind dolmen
Rondossec
Rondossec dolmen passage
Northern dolmen has a rectangular chamber with a small side chamber on the south side
The passage is 11 metres long
Keriaval
Keriaval dolmen
Northeast of Plouharnel, near Keriaval alignment and across the road from Mané Kerioned
4 transeptual chambers
Kermarquer
Kermarquer dolmen
About 1 km SSE of Kerlescan village beside the road to La Trinité-sur-Mer, on top of a small hill
Main chamber plus a side chamber

Gallery Graves

Le Manio The grave associated with Le Manio menhir near the eastern end of the Kermario alignments
Older than the alignments
Kerlescan
Kerlescan covered passage
Kerlescan covered alley
North of the Kerlescan alignments
Entrance is on the right (upper photo) in the side of the passage
The long, narrow mound is surrounded by a rectangle of stones (lower photo)
Mané Roullarde
Mane Roullarde gallery grave
Northern outskirts of La Trinité-sur-Mer
Bilgroix Rhuys Peninsula, 2 km northwest of Arzon on Point Bilgroix
Le Net Rhuys Peninsula, 2 km southeast of Tumiac tumulus near village of Le Net

All photographs were taken by myself, during trips to the megaliths of Carnac in 1980, 1983, 1994, 1998, and 2002. All photographs are my property and may not be copied or used without my written permission.

 

Table of Contents

Introduction

Types of Megaliths
of Carnac

Databank

Links



September 1, 2003
©copyright 1999, 2003 Vicki Sherwood
E-mail: vsherwood@simon-kucher.com
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