June 27, 2017

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?

Brittany France – Sleeping in a Chateau

Thanks to “I’ll Never Be French” by Mark Greenside, Brittany has been on my mind these days.

Quite simply, Brittany is stunning.  This area southwest of Paris quite literally offers something for every person.  There are beaches, medieval villages, sailing, art, ceramic centers, prehistoric remains, castles, bicycling, botanical garden, Celtic history, cathedrals, walking, fishing . . . This landscape should not be missed and what could be better than spending your nights in lodging that offers a distinct ambiance?

Brittany France by cb_agulto, on Flickr

Brittany France by cb_agulto, on Flickr

There are quite a few great Chateaux turned B & B in Brittany each offering you the opportunity to lay your head for the night just like the nobility of yore!  The Chateau B & B’s are usually in rural areas near interesting tourist sites.  Your hosts offer guests insider tips on the museums and villages you simply must not miss as well as arrange horseback riding or golf or dinner reservations.  Or if you decide, you could just wander the land surrounding your Chateau.  It is really up to you.

Of the many choices you have for Chateau B & B’s, here are 3 to whet your appetite!

 

Chateau Le Guilguiffin Brittany France

Chateau Le Guilguiffin

Le Guilguiffin

Situated near Quimpers, the castle at Le Guilguiffin dates back to the 18th century and is classified as an historical monument. Tradition reigns here as the public rooms and bedrooms are tastefully decorated in a style befitting a building of this stature including antiques.   There are 4 rooms and 2 suites.  The property also offers the Gardeners House which is 2 stories, sleeps 5 and includes a fireplace, oozes charm and has a local flavor.  Guernevez cottage is another more rustic option that is a bit smaller – only 2 bedrooms. Another bonus, dogs are welcome!

Le Guilguiffin Room Brittany France

Courtesy of Le Guilguiffin

Room at Le Guilguiffin Brittany France

Courtesy of Le Guilguiffin

 

Chateau de Talhouet

This chateau dates back to the 16th century and is full of all the charm you’d expect while in Brittany.  As a special enticement, this B & B is near the glorious medieval village of Rochefort-en-Terre.  Set in its own private woods and gardens, Chateau de Talhouet has 8 rooms that are tastefully decorated in a comfortable but elegant fashion some include a fireplace but all have great views of the countryside, woods or garden.  There is a spectacular Grand salon and a Billiards salon where you may find yourself relaxing after a days sightseeing.

Coast line Brittany France

Coast line Brittany France by www.FranceHouseHunt.com, on Flickr

Chateau de La Ballue

This 17th century castle is known for its gardens but is also home to rolling hills, forests and the wild coastal landscape of Brittany.  Near the border of Normandy, Chateau de La Ballue’s gardens are done in the style of the 16th century and include a fernery, water trap, open air theater, maze and Temple of Diana among other treats.  This small B & B has 4 rooms and suite that are lovingly decorated in the style of the period and include antiques.  All rooms have canopy beds.  Famous guests of Chateau de La Ballue include Balzac, Victor Hugo and Chateaubriand.

Chateau de La Ballue Brittany France

Chateau de La Ballue

So there you have it, 3 outstanding Chateau B & B’s for your enjoyment.  Whether you come to Brittany for the scenery, history or its culinary delights this spirited region offers a great reward to all that explore its boundaries.

 

What do you think about staying in a Chateau B & B?