Monday, April 17, 2017

Friday April 14 - What do you do if you have a dolmen in your backyard? Build a bar next to it.

What's a dolmen? It's a neolithic burial chamber that has vertical sides and a capstone top. They were often buried under mounds of dirt.
These constructions are scattered around France and other European countries. Massive stones were dragged, sometimes from long distances, and somehow set in place by a people who did not possess mechanical tools to lift or transport. While it remains a mystery why these chambers were important to the people who built them, there's no mystery about the skill and problem solving abilities of these unknown neoliths.

In a suburb of Saumur, about a half hour from our house, in the backyard of a private property (whose proprietors run a bar), exists one of the largest examples in Europe of a dolmen.
Janis in front of the dolmen

To visit the dolmen, we rang a bell next to a tall green solid metal gate which looks like any other driveway in France. A woman came out to let us into the yard, where 20 feet away, this massive dolmen fills the side yard of the bar. She collected 4 Euros from each of us (not a bad return for a site with no maintenance except to mow the grass). Small signs in multiple languages gave us information about the dolmen and we were free to wander around as long as we liked.

Bagneux Dolmen
The dolmen is 75 feet long with 4 vertical stones on each side and 4 capstones on top of each of these. It all rests on one large flagstone. It probably held 5000 bodies when in use. There are no skeletons left. (wonder what happened to them) The right side of the doorway has been broken and a thin slab (the brown) hides a limestone brick wall.
view of interior of Bagneux dolmen, 59 feet long
The dolmen is an amazing sight. I think I can understand why it survived for 5000 years - It would take an army to move the stones and they are impervious to weather.
Dave under the capstone at the rear of the Bagneux dolmen
I may not know why they made them, but I have a whole new appreciation for neolithic people's ability to complete what must have been a monumental building project. No doubt it required enormous cooperation and planning.
view from back of Bagneux dolmen

The only mystery left unanswered is how do you get to buy property with a dolmen on it?  This dolmen is in the middle of  a residential area of Bagneux, a suburb of Saumur. Curious. It was time for aperos at home so we didn't stop for a beer in the bar on our way out. Perhaps we should have, maybe some of our questions would have been answered.

1 comment:

  1. Pat and I remember Saumer. I thought it was called "the Chateaux of love", appropriate for our honeymoon, but I just checked our Michelin guide and do not see it called that.