Latitude 47.595977 Longitude 3.066988. The countryside around Carnac in the Morbihan region of southern Brittany abounds with standing stones that stride across the fields like ancient warriors – forming alignments or stone rows – perhaps the most famous being ‘Alignments de Kermario’ about 1 mile north-east of the village of Carnac, beside the D196 road (Route de Kerlescan). The nearest town is Auray 10 miles to the north-east. You can’t really miss these rows or avenues of prehistoric menhirs as they can be seen from three other country lanes running off the D196, or you can walk beside the stones if you wish. The stone rows start just a little to the north of the village of Kermario and fan out in the form of geometric patterns in a north-easterly direction for over half a mile (1,300 metres) standing like ageless sentinels in the landscape, often oblivious to the lanes that cut through the sides of them, and even then the stones have not lost out.
There are 10 stone rows or avenues at Kermario and upto 1,030 standing stones, seven of the rows being very well preserved. They are thought to date back to the Neolithic age between 3,300-4,500 BC and to have probably been placed here for astronomical purposes, perhaps in relation to the stars, but also to align with the summer and winter solstices, and also being used to predict lunar eclipses. One local legend says the stones are actually Roman soldiers turned to stone by St Cornely (Cornelius), the local healing saint of Carnac, who is patron saint of cattle and whose (pardon) is still held on the second sunday of September – the nearest sunday to his feast-day 16th September. St Cornelius should probably be identified with the pope and martyr of that name who died in 253 AD?
The stones were locally quarried and rolled along on shaped timbers by thousands of workers always ensuring a straight line was kept to. Some of the menhirs are now recumbant, while others tilt at various odd angles, but most of them remain in a relatively up-right position considering how long it is since they were placed there. The stones vary in size, but some are 20 foot high. At the north-eastern end of the alignment, near the Kerloquet road, a stone circle has been identified, and here the smaller scale Alignment de Kerlescan made up of over 500 stones takes over.
Thom, A & Thom, A.S., ‘The Carnac Alignmenents’, Journal for the History of Astronomy, 1972.
Copyright © Ray Spencer, The Journal of Antiquities, 2012 (up-dated 2021).