Page:EB1911 - Volume 25.djvu/988

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idea of the characteristics of these rude and primitive monu- ments in Britain and elsewhere it will be convenient to classify them as follows: (1) Isolated pillars, or monoliths (pdvos, solitary, and M0os, stone) of unhewn stones raised on end, are called menhirs (Cornish, maenhir, and Welsh maen, a stone, and hir, long). (2) When these monoliths are arranged in lines they become alignments (ad, to, and Fr. ligne, a line), as at Menec, Carnac (see Plate, fig. 5). (3) But if their linear arrangement be such as to form an enclosure (enceinte), whether circular, oval or irregular, the group is designated by the name of cromlech (Gaelic, crom, crooked, and leac, Welsh llech, a flagstone), as at Carrowmore, Ireland (see Plate, fig. 4). (4) When the monoliths, instead of standing apart as in the previous structures, are placed close to each other and enclose an area sufficiently small and narrow to be roofed over by one or more capstones so as to form a rude chamber, the monument is called a dolmen (Breton, dolmen, from dol, a table, and men, Welsh maen, a stone). For illustrations of the dolmens at Keriaval and Kit's Coty House (see Plate, figs. 1 and 2). This megalithic chamber is sometimes wholly embedded in a mound of earth or stones so as to present to outward appearance the form of a tumulus or cairn. As, however, there are many tumuli and cairns which do not contain megalithic chambers, it is only partially that these prehistoric remains come under the category of primitive stone monuments. In the rare instances of a dolmen being constructed of two single standing stones supporting a third, like the lintel of a door, as may be seen at Stonehenge (q.v.), the monument is called a trilithon (rpi^Tpeis, three, and Xi0os, stone).

Menhirs. — Rude monoliths set on end appear to have been erected in all ages for a variety of commemorative purposes, such as on the accession of kings and chiefs, or to mark the site of a battle, a grave, or a boundary line, &c. Throughout the British Isles such standing stones are widely interspersed, especially in the less cultivated districts. In Scotland, when stones were used ceremonially in the act of crowning a king, they were called tanist stones, the most celebrated of which was the Lia Fail, formerly at Scone (now at Westminster Abbey), on which the kings of Scotland used to be crowned. We read also of hare or hoer stones, cambus or camus stones (cam, crooked), cat (cath, battle) stones, witch stanes, Druid stanes, &c. The Hawk stane, or Saxum Falconis, at St Madoes, Perthshire, was erected in memory of the defeat of the Danes at Luncarty, and a monolith now standing on the field of Flodden is said to mark the place where King James fell. When menhirs were grouped together their number was often significant, e.g. twelve (Joshua iv. 5) or seven (Herod, iii. 8). Some standing stones are found to have been artificially perforated, and with these superstition has associated some curious ceremonies. As examples of this class may be mentioned the famous Stone of Odin near the circle of Stennis, the Clach-Charra, or Stone of Vengeance, at Onich near Balachulish, Argyllshire, and Men-en-tol (the holed-stone) in Cornwall. Two rude mono- liths in Scotland bear inscriptions — the famous Newton Stone in the district of Garioch, and the Cat Stane near Edinburgh. Others have cup-and-ring markings, spirals or concentric circles. In Ireland, Wales and Scotland they are occasionally found with Ogam inscriptions and in the north-east of Scotland (Pict- land) with some remarkable and hitherto unexplained symbolical figures, which were continued on the hewn and elaborately sculptured stones of early Christian times so largely found in that locality. In England monoliths are often associated with the cromlechs or stone circles, as the King's Stone at Stanton Drew, Long Meg at Little Salkeld, the Ring Stone at Avebury, &c. One of the finest British monoliths stands in the churchyard of Rudston, Yorkshire.

Menhirs are found in all countries which abound in megalithic structures. In France over r6oo isolated examples have been recorded, of which about the half, and by far the most remarkable, are within the five departments which constitute Brittany. Over the rest of France they are generally small and not to be compared in size to those of Brittany. At Locmariaquer, Morbihan, is the largest menhir in the world. It was in the form of a smooth-sided obelisk, but now lies on the ground broken into four fragments, the aggregate length of which amounts to 20-50 metres (about 67 ft.). It was made of granite foreign to the neighbourhood, and its weight, according to the most recent calculations, amounted to 347,531 kilogrammes, or 342 tons (UHomme, 1885, p. 193). The next largest menhir is at P16sidy (C6tes-du-Nord) , measuring about 37 ft. in height. Then follows a list of sixty-seven gradually diminishing to 16 ft. in height of which the first ten (all above 26 ft.) are in Brittany. As regards form these menhirs vary greatly. Some are cylindrical, as the well-known pierre de champ-Dolent at Dol (height 30 ft.), and that of Cadiou in Finistere (28 ft.); while that of Penmarch (26 ft.) takes the shape of a partially expanded fan. A menhir of quartz at M6dr6ac (Ille-et-Vilairue) stands 165 ft. high in the form of a rectangular pillar indubitablement taillt. On the introduction of Christianity into France its adherents appear to have made use of these menhirs at an early period; many of them at present support a cross, and some a Madonna. While the scattered positions of some monoliths suggest that they were sometimes used as landmarks, or perhaps as places of rendezvous for hunters, the singular grouping of others shows that these were only secondary or subsidiary functions. So far as the Ogam inscriptions, found on some of the standing stones in Scotland, Ireland and Wales, have thrown light on the subject they appear to have been the headstones of graves. It is not uncommon to find a monolith overtopping a tumulus, thus simulating the bauta (grave or battle) stones of Scandinavia. Menhirs of all sizes are also met with in Algeria, Morocco, India, Central Asia, &c.

Alignments.— The most celebrated monuments of this class are to be seen in the vicinity of Carnac in Brittany. They are situated in groups at Menec (see Plate, fig. 5), Kermario, Ker- lescant, Erdeven and Ste Barbe — all within a few miles of each other, and in the centre of a district containing the most remark- able megalithic remains in the world. The first three groups are supposed by some archaeologists to be merely portions of one original and continuous series of alignments, which extended nearly 2 m. in length in a uniform direction from south- west to north-east. Commencing at the village of Menec the menhirs extend in eleven rows. At first they stand from ie> to 13 ft. above ground, but as we advance they become gradu- ally smaller till they attain only 3 or 4 ft. in height, and then cease altogether. After a vacant space of about 350 yards we come to the Kermario group, which contains only ten lines, but the menhirs are nearly of the same magnitude as those at the beginning of the former group. After a still greater interval the menhirs again appear at the village of Kerlescant, but this time in thirteen rows. In 1881 M. Felix Gaillard, Plouharnel, made a plan of the alignments at Erdeven, from which it appears that, out of a total of n 20 menhirs which originally constituted the group, 290 are still standing, 740 fallen, and 90 removed. The menhirs here may be traced for nearly a mile, but their linear arrangement is not so distinct, nor are the stones so large as those at Carnac. About 50 alignments are known in France. At Penmarch there is one containing over 200 stones arranged in four rows. Others, however, are formed of only a single row of stones, as at Kerdouadec, Leure and Camaret. The first is 480 metres in length, and terminates at its southern ex- tremity in a kind of croix gamm&e. At Leur6 three short lines meet' at right angles. The third is situated on the rising ground between the town of Camaret and the point of Toulinguet. It consists of a base line, some 600 yards long, with 41 stones (others had apparently been removed), and two rectangular lines as short offsets. Close to it were a dolmen and a pros- trate menhir. All these monoliths consist of a coarse quartz and are of small dimensions, only one, at Leure, reaching a height of 9 ft. Alignments are also found in the regions flanking the Pyrenees, but here they are generally in single file mostly straight, but sometimes reptiliform. One at Peyrelade (Billiere) runs in a straight line from north to south for nearly