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and puddle-wonderful "

e.e.cummings

The Call of the Unfathomable: Tea with a Druid 76

June 3rd, 2019

I’m just back from a retreat in Brittany – a wonderful, mysterious land – where I came once again to stand before the massive broken menhir in Locmariaquer by the dolmen known as the Table des Marchands. The broken menhir is a huge single stone, 330 tons, 20 metres high, erected in around 45 – 4700 BC alongside 18 other standing stones. It fell in about 4000 BC and you can now see it lying on the ground.

It lies beside the Table des Marchands Dolmen. The capstone of that is made up of one section of another giant broken menhir. A second section has been recycled as a capstone for the nearby Er Grah tumulus. But then they dragged a third massive chunk 4 kms away to use as the capstone for the incredible Gavrinis monument, now marooned on an island in France’s biggest inland sea in the Gulf of Morbihan.

The stone originally was quarried 18kms away I believe. At the visitor centre you can buy a replica of all three sections re-assembled. One of these stands on my desk. Note the druid going about his business quietly in front of the stone, which demonstrates how truly vast the stone is (that’s a joke – the Getafix is not to scale!)

I think we are often fascinated by these old sites because we can’t fully understand them. We love mystery. We will never know why the builders felt the need to erect such massive stones, why the nearby stones at Carnac number over 3,000 and are arranged in straight rows for miles across the landscape. Any behaviour that is unfathomable is to a certain extent fascinating for us, and each of us will perhaps have different areas of the Unknown, the Unfathomable that call to us. For some, the darkness a cave offers is an enticement to explore, for others it will be the Mysteries of Outer Space, the ocean, our relationship with other levels of consciousness, the often unfathomable nature of human motivation or psychology. The prize is greater understanding, but deep down, I believe, we treasure the unfathomable because we know that it stretches on forever, and therefore represents infinity and eternity – endless possibility and potential.

3 Responses to “The Call of the Unfathomable: Tea with a Druid 76”

  1. I love the image of Carnac being some sort of megalithic super store, Roks R Us!! Very funny.

  2. A treat to read this!

    Oldest daughter and I did a cycle-with-tent tour of Brittany back in ’94 with Aubrey Burl’s ‘Megalathic Brittany’ as our guide. Did you see those ceremonial polished axe heads? Jadeite and other stone from such places as the Alps? Those shaped & smoothed menhirs across Brittany are a wonderful enigmatic record. I looked just now for a photo taken by daughter of me next to the Kerloas (‘place of sadess’) menhir near Plouarzel, for a sense of scale. Will need to dig photo out. Stands 9.5m but must be ~12m and about 100 tons.

    I was struck by strong simialrities and ceremonial themes at Newgrange in the Boyne Valley when I got there years later. And there is Orkney. And in Northumberland just down our road I was lucky enough to handle a polished stone axe (fashioned stone from Lake District) a few years ago at a dig of a newly investigated wooden henge monument (est. Early Bronze Age). The axe head was believed much earlier than the henge and had been broken at the tip and deposited in the outer ditch probably while the henge was in use: unfathomable mystery within mystery!

    You nave sent me looking at dates – the ones you quoted were earlier than the estimates I had remembered. This wwas nice http://dro.dur.ac.uk/5898/1/5898.pdf
    best
    Phil H

  3. UNFATHOMABLE… it reminded me some quotes from THE SPIRE by William Golding, about the Spire without basic, built only around the LIGHT rays… and “because the Spirit always wants from people to do UNFATHOMABLE thinks – to construct a ship in the desert”…or to flow to the end of the world…

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