Carnac Stones were a system of more than 3,000 prehistoric standing stones with over 100 monuments, which include burial mounds, stone tombs, enclosures, and linear arrangements of menhirs. The stones were erected between the 5th and 3rd millennia BCE by the Neolithic farming communities which inhabited the area of Carnac, Brittany. The precise date of the stones is difficult to ascertain as little dateable material has been found beneath them. About 3300 BC is the date most commonly estimated for the site's main phase of activity, but some megaliths may date to as early as 4500 BC. The exact significance of the stones, especially the alignments, has been much debated for centuries. Local people long-regarded the megaliths as magical, Boureau Deslandes thought that they had occurred naturally following 'upheavals suffered by the Earth', and the writer Gustave Flaubert famously dismissed them as merely 'large stones'. Early scholars considered them examples of Celtic temples or assembly points for the ancient druids of Armorica or even maps of celestial bodies.
|The Carnac Stones Formation|
The Carnac Stones consist of both single standing stones (menhirs) and multistone clusters (dolmens). There are two main groups of stone alignments at Carnac, which are known as the Menec and Kermario alignments. Further smaller alignments are dotted around the area including the Kerlescan and the Petit Menec.
Although the stones date from 4500 BC, modern myths were formed which resulted from 1st century AD Roman and later Christian occupations, such as Saint Cornelius – a Christian myth associated with the stones held that they were pagan soldiers in pursuit of Pope Cornelius when he turned them to stone. Brittany has its own local versions of the Arthurian cycle. Local tradition claims that the reason they stand in such perfectly straight lines is that they are a Roman legion turned to stone by Merlin.