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This is a Dolmen. I think it is amazing! It is something between 5,000 and 7,000 years old.  Recently I posted about the amphitheatre in Saintes and the Germanicus Arch. …. they are only about 2,000 years old.

Now I know age is not everything, though for me, in recent years, I think it has gained in importance!  What is amazing is that these were constructed by stone age people. How did they get these vast stones in the first place? Were the stones just lying about fairly close to the place where the Dolmen was constructed or did these early homo sapiens dig them out and transport them some distance to the construction site?  Even moving these stones a mere 100 metres would have been a massive task. When you think that this was pre- iron age you realise that all they had was stone tools. Presumably they used wooden logs in some sort of lever system.

Once the stones were in place how did they lift the large flat stone on top of the uprights? It is all truly amazing. No one really knows what they were for.It is presumed that they were some form of burial sites and that originally the large structural stones were covered with smaller stones and earth to create a barrow. Indeed examples have been found with lots of smaller rocks on top.

The other thing which I think is quite remarkable is that the people who constructed these probably did not have a lot of spare time on their hands. Just staying alive probably took up most of their day so what ever possessed them to enter into this major construction? Furthermore I think that these people lived in fairly small scattered populations so did they all get together to perform this mammoth task?   If these are burial sites then one must assume that the person or persons being buried were from  fairly important families, but did these primitive people have chiefs or rulers?  Did they also believe in a higher spiritual entity, which again if these were  burial sites of such magnitude one would assume they did. There is a lot to ponder. It is all, as I say, quite amazing.

Dolmen are evidently found over large parts of the world, throughout Europe, Asia, India and the Middle East. I have not found any reference to them being in Africa or the Americas. There are quite a lot in France.The fact that they were built across vast regions of the world and that they were constructed over a period of several thousands of years suggests that they were of a major importance to the lives of the people who made them. I wonder if they were not more of a shelter rather than anything spiritual. After all  stone age people   lived in caves where they existed naturally , so could these be an attempt to recreate a cave where a natural one did not exist?

The one pictured above is in Saint-Saviol which is close to Civray,  just within the department of Deux Sevres.  It is known as the Dolmen de la Pierre Folle de Limalonges, or Dolmen de la Pierre Pese. There is a small website about Limalonges and it is featured in that. The dolmen is closest to Saint-Saviol but as that is in Vienne and the dolmen is just in Deux Sevres the village of Limalonges is the nearest village in that department so they lay claim to it. There were no Department boundaries when it was built!

Other websites worth a look are

Megaliths of France

Voyages de Rubris

Finally I can’t get it out of my mind that the short fat guy in Sargent Bilko was called Dolmen – I  know he was really called Doberman but somehow  Dolmen seems to sort of fit his character.