The Moorlands and Megaliths of Monteneuf
The heart of Brittany and its megaliths
Ranked as the seventh remarkable site in Brittany, the archaeological and natural heritage of Monteneuf’s moorland is amazing. In the middle of the gorse and heather, the standing stones of Monteneuf date back to the beginning of time. They stand close to the forest of Paimpol, adding an extra touch of enchantment to the landscape.
Stone Age masterpieces
Stone Age man didn’t wait for Obélix to appear in comic strips to shape and set up menhirs (the word means standing stones in Breton). Between 4,500 and 3,000 years B.C., civilised man’s first farmers sowed more than 420 megaliths across the moorlands around Brocéliande! Formed of purple schist and decorated by lichen, these monoliths stand in seven rows running from east to west. They’re set in clearings, with gorse and short grass growing at their feet. Close by are dolmens (stones lying flat on the ground) and burial chambers, nestling beneath the trees. Wandering around in the midst of these motionless giants is an extremely moving experience.
First-hand experience of life thousands of years ago
On the 7.5 hectare site of theMenhirs of Monteneuf, a menhir that’s in the process of being extracted, together with many more pieces of evidence, shows the engineering techniques invented by our courageous ancestors. To highlight this discovery, there are reconstructions where you can learn how to stand a menhir upright. Everybody’s welcome to have a go, regardless of how strong you are! There are also workshops where you’ll be let into the secret of how prehistoric man kindled fire, or how to build a cairn or a Stone Age dwelling. It’s a terrific way to find out all about the earliest villages of our times!
In the footsteps of korrigans and knights of legend
In a star formation around the blocks of stone, waymarked paths lead off into the forest, now and again crossing a Roman road. They take you into Brocéliande’s strange world of folklore and legend. Reality and imagination merge into one when you reach the passage grave known as ‘La Morinais’, or the burial chamber called ‘La Maison Trouvé’, or walk around the lake of Chaperon Rouge (Little Red Riding Hood). Circular tours ranging from 1.5 to 15 km follow the line of the rocky outcrops that break through the grass-covered earth. Don’t be surprised if you find yourself in the company of a korrigan (the local name for a mischievous little elf). You’re on his land!
Natural treasures on view!
Shrouded in the mists of legend, or basking in shimmering sunshine, the heathland has many faces. Open plains, then moist peaty moorland, followed by leafy woods and pine forests; it all combines to create a veritable mosaic of contrasting colours. The vegetation comprises 382 different plant species, with the blue tint of the moor grasses mingling with the purple of the heather, the gold of the gorse and the white of the moorland crowfoot. In this natural setting there are 180 species of animal for sharp-eyed visitors to spot. Dragonfly, martens, salamanders, green woodpeckers, nightjars and sparrow hawks all thrive in this protected environment. There are guided walks that take you to meet the creatures who make their homes in this landscape. If you fancy a soundtrack to accompany your walk, the audio trailSur le bout de la Lande(At the Moorland’s End) gives a voice to the grasses and trees.
Did you know?
Standing stones don’t always stand up!
The megaliths discovered at Monteneuf haven’t always pointed skywards. In the year 1000, the church had these menhirs knocked flat to the ground because they were considered too pagan, having no biblical basis. It was only in the 1980s that archaeologists raised the stones back to their upright position.
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