Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 75.djvu/128

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By Professor J. S. KINGSLEY


THE writer makes no pretense of being an archeologist, but finding few accounts of the wonderful megalithic monuments of Brittany in English, he has written this account of his visit to them as thread on which to string a few pictures. Those huge stones erected by human hands—no one knows by whom or why or when—which are called megalithic monuments, occur throughout western Europe, from the "Huns' beds" east of the Zuider Zee, through Britain, France and Spain and into northern Africa, across the Strait of Gibraltar, but nowhere are they as numerous or striking as in Brittany. The tourist is familiar with that strange circle of standing stones at Stonehenge and, to a less extent with "Kit's Coty House" in Kent and the circle at Avebury, but Morbihan is far out of the usual track and hence is seen by comparatively few of our people.

The department of Morbihan lies on the southern shore of Brittany, three hundred miles in a straight line west of Paris, and considerably farther as the trains run. The part of it where these megaliths abound is, perhaps, twenty miles, east and west, and ten north and south. It contains no large cities—Vannes, the capital, has not twenty-five thousand inhabitants—it has no churches or art galleries starred in Badeker; its sole attractions are its delightful inhabitants who still adhere to their ancient costumes, and the monuments.

Archeologists divide these standing stones into different categories, according to the way they are arranged, and each kind has its name derived from either the Keltic or the French. There are menhirs (Keltic, long stones) which stand upright in the soil, usually upon the smaller end. Menhirs may be isolated, scattered here and there through the region, or they may be arranged in lines or rows (alignments) stretching across the fields. In certain places the menhirs form square or semicircular enclosures called cromlechs (Keltic, curved stones). Again, the megaliths have been built into chambers, the walls composed of upright stones placed close together, and roofed in by one or more large blocks of stone. These are the dolmens[1] (table stones), the enlarged chamber being usually reached by a narrower passage, though occasionally the entrance is in one side of the chamber. In some cases

  1. In England the dolmens are frequently called cromlechs.