The Gulf of Morbihan, land of megaliths
From Trédion to Colpo, from Arzon to Locmariaquer, to the discovery of : tumulus, cairn, dolmen, menhir, covered alley, megalithic enclosure… The megaliths mark out the territory and recall that our ancestors were infatuated with the Gulf and the Rhuys Peninsula since the Neolithic period.
A little vocabulary
MEGALITH : from the Greek megas, big and lithos, stone. Monument made up of one or more monumental stones. Menhirs, dolmens, alignments and cairns are different types of megalithic architecture.
DOLMEN : traditional name for a stone burial chamber, most often with a monumental cover slab, the remains of a monument covered by a tumulus or cairn, often disappeared by erosion or human action.
MENHIR : traditional name for an upright stone stele, which can be isolated or be part of a monument such as an enclosure or an alignment. CAIRN : architecture mostly made of dry stones covering one or several graves with a corridor.
TERTRE OR TUMULUS : artificial mound mainly composed of earth covering a burial in the form of a closed vault or cist, without access corridor. The term tumulus is more vague, when the interior architecture remains unknown.
MEGALITHIC ENCLOSURE : megalithic ensemble made up of upright stones, forming an open space in the shape of an arc or a horseshoe (megalithic enclosure of Er Lannic), or, more rarely, quadrangular. It should be noted that complete stone circles, like the more recent monument of Stonehenge in England, do not exist in southern Brittany.
A LITTLE HISTORY: FROM THE FIRST MEN TO THE GALLO-ROMANS
Evolution of Man, then a nomadic hunter-gatherer. At the glacial maximum, around 22,000 BC, the sea level was 120 m lower, leaving the coastline beyond Belle-Ile-en-Mer. Brittany was only visited during the most favorable climatic periods.
Man, still living on a predatory economy, adapted to the post-glacial climate warming and the development of the forest. The oldest cemeteries in southern Brittany date from this period, built in the shell mounds of Téviec and Hoëdic.
Period of the beginnings of agriculture, breeding and sedentarization in village communities. Emergence of megalithism from the Middle Neolithic on the Atlantic coast.
AFTER THE NEOLITHIC
After the Neolithic, the Metal Ages (Bronze Age and Iron Age) followed, during which the megalithic monuments were sometimes visited and even reoccupied, until the Roman conquest at the beginning of our era.
- Discover also : the portrait of Yves Coppens : paleontologist from Vannes [FR]