Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Dolmens, Standing Stones and Gariottes

I was doing some reading the other day and found out that there was a group of prehistoric dolmens just across the river from us. What is a dolmen I wondered? I read further and discovered that they were single chamber megalithic tombs. A dolmen is usually made of 3-4 upright stones, supporting a large flat horizontal cap stone. Most date from the Neolithic period 4,000-3,000 BCE.

Wow! I thought. We should go and see these things.

The weather turned cool and cloudy yesterday afternoon so we decided it was a perfect time to go dolmen hunting.

'Hunting' is the perfect word to describe what we did. We used a map to get to the general area, but then we had to rely on our own wits to find them. The signs pointing to the dolmens were small and half hidden in the under-growth. No matter. We were on a mission to find them all.

And find them we did.

Even though these are tombs, we all had to pile in for a self-timer photo shoot.

We tromped about the oak forests and were continually amazed by what we discovered. Apparently there are 10,000 dolmens scattered around the south-west area of France.

Not only did we find the dolmens, we also discovered a group of standing stones. How in the world did these Neolithic people get these gargantuan slabs of stone into a standing position? Some of them were 5 metres high. Boggles the mind. Seriously.

Not only did we find dolmens and standing stones, we also saw lots of gariottes scattered throughout the forest. Gariottes are dry-stacked stone huts that were built in the 1800s for shelter from the elements. Some were built for one person, others could house 2 or 3 people. The art of constructing gariottes has been lost. No one knows how to make them anymore.

An afternoon in the oak forests of Prayssac is an afternoon well spent.


  1. Love love love the self timer photo!!!!!!!Shu

  2. Very impressive! It's hard to fathom how people in such primitive times managed such feats. I'm glad you persevered in the hunt - very impressive! ~ jo xo

  3. Such a fun and informative day!

  4. Yes, Chrissy, the first thing I like to do with my guests when they come to France is take them out to the bush and make them look for rocks.

  5. I can't believe these are just sitting there in the forest! Amazing.

    And the self-timer photo is priceless!