Stone Rows at Carnac Accidental Alignments

The largest concentration of megaliths in the world is in Carnac in Brittany. As a site to be studied, however, it has problems. Thom and Thom (1971), who surveyed the site, had great difficulty in finding a stone that had not been moved, with any degree of certainty. Nevertheless, DHK, who has visited the site, notes that the stones are not readily moved, and unless there have been organized efforts by pranksters, farmers, or builders, large-scale systematic movement is not likely to have taken place, although cromlechs (mounds enclosed by stones) have been destroyed.

The dates of the stone rows at Carnac and elsewhere in Brittany are unclear. The cromlechs seem to have been the primary focus of interest to which the rows led. At least some of these cromlechs were in existence by about 3000 b.c. However, many of the rows appear to have been built by a process of accumulation over an interval of many centuries. Burl (1993, p. 146) writes, "It is interesting that the short axis of the Ménec West cromlech, an inverted egg, is in line with midwinter sunrise and that the long axis of its eastern counterpart points in the direction of the midsummer sunset as though the two rings were complementary, each for celebrations at the year's ends." He goes on to suggest festivals at the cross-quarter days of Beltane (early May) and Samain (early November). Burl points out that there is clear evidence of ceremonial fires associated with some of the cromlechs and that such fires were frequently built in association with equinoxes and solstices. A summer solstice bonfire was built on a burial mound overlooking the rows of Carnac as late as the 19th century.

We have already mentioned the very early erection of the menhirs and one of the most spectacular features of the Carnac area, Le Grand Menhir Brisé, or Er Grah, the largest known menhir. The broken fragments of this monument now lie on the ground at Lacmariaquer. If erect, they would have had a combined height of ~22.5 m (67 ft) and weighed ~340 tons. It was proposed by Thom and Thom (1971) that this was a universal foresight for several backsights in the Carnac region. From these various proposed backsights (the italicized names are currently existing backsights), the orientation to Er Grah reveals the following alignments:



+(e +

i) rise


St. Pierre:


i) rise


Le Moustoir:


i) rise




i) rise



-(e +

i) rise



-(e +

i) set, and toward Quiberon




i) set, and toward Kervilor and

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