Les Menhirs de Monteneuf

An archaeological site

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The Monteneuf alignments of standing stones have been recently rediscovered (in the late 1970s) because only 3 standing stones in the moorland remained to show where they were. Also recently there have been a lot of different kinds of research at this site to try and understand it. Archaeologists have used several methods of research to deal with the various problems that it presents (excavations – Y. Lercerf 1989-1995 and V. Brisotto 2011 - and archaeological surveys – Tardieu 2014 –).
This site was constructed in the late Neolithic period, 6500 years ago at a time when people had recently settled the land to grow crops and raise animals. They lived in wattle and daub houses that were sometimes very large, with thatched roofs. However we haven’t found any villages near the Monteneuf standing stones.

In addition, discoveries of several remains (stone wedges, charcoal, traces of rails and so on have enabled archaeologists to gain a better understanding of this megalithic site. These remains are rare but they have finally let us understand how this huge site was built:

  • for extracting the stone, an area of the quarry has been preserved to show how the stone was split using wedges or by hammering.
  • to make moving the stone easier, the builders used rails on which the blocks of stone was slid or rolled.
  • to raise, them, the blocks were tipped into a shallow ditch, and an A-frame was used to give enough leverage to raise it into position.
  • finally, the standing stone was wedged either with blocs of shale or with a chalky mixture which solidified when it dried.
As with all stone alignments, the Monteneuf site is easily seen, and has provoked the interest or hostility of later civilisations. The standing stones were knocked down and were gradually forgotten, and then overgrown with plants. This destruction probably began in the late prehistoric period and reached its height in the middle ages (as shown by radiocarbon dating) encouraged by the Church. Other examples show that the destruction of megalithic monuments is not unusual.
Finally, on the edge of the site, a dismantled stone structure covering about 20m² was recently discovery (2011).

This shows that the site covered a wider area than was previously thought. It is now thought that the Neolithic site, which includes a variety of megalithic structures (standing stones, passage graves, etc.), must cover about ten hectares. It is made up of at least 400 stones and several alignments of standing stones have been identified.

An archaeological site

Given the exceptional archaeological interest of the Monteneuf standing stones, that have been registered as Historic Monuments since 1997, both public and private local bodies have continually worked to make them better known and develop them.

The site has now gained the status of “Archaeological site” which means that there are three types of development carried out:

  • scientific: archaeological activities and research are performed on the site by an archaeologist,
  • educational: scientific knowledge is presented to be accessible to the general public,
  • tourism: the site is a tourist attraction, that must be both recreational and cultural.

The strategies for developing the archaeological site are brought together in a document drawn up by a scientific council made up of the major participants working for the site:

  • Guer Communauté, the owner and main funder of the facilities and activities offered on the site,
  • the Association Les Landes, the scientific and tourism manager of the site,
  • the Service Regional d’Archéologie, part of the Direction Régionale des Affaires Culturelles de Brretagne, in charge of protecting the site.

Developing this project has led to the creation of facilities, reconstructions and educational materials on the site and also a timetable of activities for the general public and school groups.