February 21, 2018

Prehistoric Questions from England & France

As a child I was not interested in history at all.  What was once my least favorite class in school has now turned into a fascination.  History can answer many questions we have about our past but it also leaves many questions unanswered.

One of the periods that has many unanswered questions is the Neolithic or New Stone Age. There are many questions surrounding the Neolithic period but none as interesting as the questions about the Megalithic monuments in Europe such as the stone circles found in Stonehenge and Avebury England or the menhirs and dolmens found in Carnac and Locmariaquer on the Brittany coast of France.

Stonehenge at Sunset England

Stonehenge at Sunset England by Jeffrey Pfau wikimedia

England is home to many prehistoric monuments but two of the more famous are found at Stonehenge and Avebury.

Avebury Stone Circles England

Avebury Stone Circles by Rxfelix

Avebury, the largest stone circle in England, was built around 2600 BC and contains three stone circles.  While we are not sure what the original purpose of the structure was, archaeologists believe it was most likely used for some type of ceremony.  Over the years, many archaeologists have suggested the ceremonies took place to make the “gods” happy.  Today the site is sacred to Pagans and New Age religions who believe the stone circles offer some type of psychic power.

Stonehenge England

Stonehenge by garethwiscombe wikimedia

Also in the Wiltshire County, Stonehenge is probably the most famous prehistoric monument in the world. The standing stones of Stonehenge are arranged in circles with stones that weigh up to 400 tons.  Again we are really not sure what Stonehenge’s purpose was but it is widely believed it was a type of calendar keeping track of the movements of the sun, moon and stars.  As with Avebury, Stonehenge is popular with New Age religions.  In fact, one New Age belief is that the stones, which came from Wales, were levitated to reach today’s location.  Leave it to engineers to throw water on this belief by saying they were probably rafted on rivers and then rolled on logs.

Dolmen de Kercadoret à Locmariaquer France

Dolmen de Kercadoret à Locmariaquer byJean-Charles GUILLO

France is also home to its fair share of prehistoric monuments dating from the Neolithic period which includes the menhirs and dolmens located along the Brittany coast in Carnac and Locmariaquer.

Carnac - Ménec Allignements Brittany France

Carnac - Ménec Allignements under Dark Clouds by Drriss, on Flickr

Carnac is home to about 2700 menhirs, dolmens and stone rows that are among the oldest found in Europe. Unlike the circles at Stonehenge, the menhirs in Carnac stand upright in a row stretching over a mile in length.  Near Locmariaquer are three sites dating back 7000 years and include the Grand Menhir brise and the dolmen La Table des Marchand.  A dolmen is a tomb that is made of standing stones with a stone slab for a roof.  As with Stonehenge and Avebury, the purpose of these are not known but are thought to have been built for astronomic or religious purposes.

Table des Marchand Locmariaquer France

Table des Marchand Locmariaquer by Myrabella Wikimedia

While history can tell us these monuments all date back to the Neolithic age, it hasn’t told us why or even how they were built.  I don’t know if we will ever know the real answers, so for now we’ll be happy to see them and wonder about all the possible answers!

Why do you think these prehistoric structures were built?

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  4. Katrina says:

    Heading to Drombeg Stone Circle for Winter Solstice. I’ve been there for solstice celebrations before. It was magical. Before we arrived it was cold and cloudy, but no rain. While we were in the circle, it snowed on us – just a little. When we left the circle, the snow stopped.

    Can’t say for sure why they were all built, but I enjoy visiting. 🙂
    Katrina recently posted..It’s the little things

    • Debbie Beardsley says:

      Sounds very interesting! I think it would be fun to celebrate one of the solstices at one of the prehistoric sites.

  5. Leigh says:

    WE saw dolmens in Andalusia, Spain last year that were pretty interesting – once you knew the history and sat through the movie. I am impressed with the ingenuity of building these structures and wonder if any of our guesses are actually neat the mark.
    Leigh recently posted..Time Travel: Winter to Summer in Three Hours

    • Debbie Beardsley says:

      I definitely need someone to tell me the history of these places. Thats the only way I can even begin to comprehend them! I am in awe at the builders of those times.

  6. Although I love answers, I also love mystery – so I hope the mystery surrounding Stonehenge remains!
    Shing @ The Culture Map recently posted..5 OF THE MOST ROMANTIC CITIES IN EUROPE

  7. I was always fascinated by history, even as a child… especially about Stonehenge. I am happy that some years back I got to visit it. But I haven’t seen the other places mentioned above. I have to put them now on my list.
    Cipri @Travelocafe recently posted..A Morning on Stockholm’s Royal Canal Boat Tour

  8. Steve says:

    Obviously they were built to confuse the heck out of future generations. Worked well didn’t it?
    Seriously, although I have no idea why these places were built, it makes me wonder what future civilizations will look back on 7000 years from now and wonder why we built them? Odds are that while most of our great cities might not stand the test of time, that giant ball of twine in Kansas will probably survive whatever wipes out the rest of us. Explain that one people of the 91st century!
    Steve recently posted..The Trek to Layer Cake Mountain

    • Debbie Beardsley says:

      How crazy do you think they’d find us? You’re right that ball of twine will definitely survive along with cockroaches 🙂

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