Longitude 46.658523. Latitude 0.943036. La Ciste Des Cous is said to be the oldest megalithic monument in the Vendee – this prehistoric site is located half a mile south-west of Bazoges-en-Pareds village and just off the D43 (Le Petit Miteau) highway close to the hamlet of Miteau-les-Champs. The village of La Joudonnere is 1 mile further along the highway. The site is signposted from the D43 road and is in open countryside beside a clump of trees. It is, at first glance, a rather strange structure with its almost defensive-like circular walls surrounding a stone-flagged central burial chamber and, beside that almost hidden by trees, is a cist grave that has some large stones set into the ground. Both monuments date from the Neolithic period of prehistory.
Circular dry-stone walls form this Neolithic monument that dates from 4,000 BC and there is a longish tunnel-like entrance with a large lintel stone above it. The low-level tunnel leads into a circular central enclosure (chamber) that has stone flags on its floor, most of which are now rather broken up due to vandalism. Its central chamber was originally a burial chamber, and it would have had a domed roof made of more dry-stone walling all fitting closely together, and maybe it was covered over with an earthen, grassy mound? It is quite a strong looking structure that is almost defensive in appearence and is somewhat similar to the Newgrange passage-tomb, in County Meath, Southern Ireland, although on a much smaller scale.
Next to this stands the rectangular-shaped cist monument which is now surrounded by a fence. This Neolithic grave-site has three large standing stones set into the ground at the head of the grave with another four large recumbant stones at the sides, one of which is a huge boulder, and some other smaller stones scattered around. The roof of the cist has gone. Both sites were discovered in 1910 and excavated in 1913 when upto 100 skeletons were dug up along with many other antiquities such as grave-goods.
Joussaume, Roger., Bulletin de la Societe Prehistorique Francaise, Paris, 1978.
Click on the links for photos:- http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:La_Ciste_des_Cous..JPG