Often called France’s Stonehenge, The Carnac Stones in Brittany have puzzled people for millennials as to why they were built. Some ancient burial rites? Perhaps it’s like the legends say and are soldiers turned into stone?
The Carnac Stones, or Steudadoù Karnag as they are called in Breton, are mysterious and imposing structures located in the small town of Carnac, Brittany in France that no one really knows the purpose of for certain.
These stone structures that are often referred to as France’s Stonehenge have stood for centuries, forming an impressive landscape that has piqued the interest of many throughout history. What were they built for? Some form of pagan worship? Astronomical device? Perhaps even an enormous earthquake detector?
Perhaps it is like in the legends, and they really were created by Merlin as he turned an entire legion of Romans into these perfectly lined stones?
The Carnac Stones – a Forest of Stones
The Carnac Stones are believed to have been created approximately 7000 years ago with the local stones from the region. These stones were erected by the pre-celtic people living in Brittany in the Neolithic period, centuries before the Romans arrived, the celts lived and before France became France.
The Carnac Stones are made up of over 3,000 prehistoric megaliths that cover an area of over 4 km in the village of Carnac. The single standing stones are called menhirs, meaning long stones in Breton language.
It is believed that these monuments were erected sometime between 4500 BC and 2000 BC, making them some of the oldest structures still standing in Europe and therefore an important historical place. Many theories have been raised as to their purpose and origin, but no one knows for sure how they came to be or why they were created.
The Mystery of the Stones
Although the exact purpose and meaning of the Carnac Stones is still a mystery today, historians have theorized that they were built for some type of spiritual or religious worship. Maybe even burial rituals as there are several dolmen which are burial chambers close to the lined up standing rocks.
Until not very long ago, there was a Breton tradition to visit one of the menhir called La Vaisseau in Carnac. Young married couple met up at midnight with their parents watching as they ran naked around the stone as a fertility ritual.
However, since much of our understanding about this period remains unclear, their true role is likely to remain an enigma. Over time, various myths and legends have developed around these megaliths that add to their mystery and allure.
Legends of the Carnac Stones
Legends of the Carnac Stones span centuries, stretching all the way back to when they were originally constructed. In the middle ages they looked at the stones as the work of demons as well as sorcerers or giants that walked the earth before the flood.
They tell of goblin-like creatures called Korrigans that are said to haunt the megaliths and living in the hollow rocks and dolmens, or stone soldiers that are often said to be protecting some sort of hidden treasure or guarding a great secret.
Another modern myth is that the stones were created when pagan soldiers came after Pope Cornelius in the 200s and he turned them into stone. Some even say that the stones are that of a Roman legion marching on the grounds that were turned to stone by Merlin from the Arthurian legends.
Despite their mysterious origins, these ancient megaliths continue to fascinate millions of visitors each year.
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