The Carnac Stones in France are unlike any other megalithic structures that you've seen or read about in Europe. Unlike England's famous Stonehenge, which consists of a ring of standing stones, the Carnac Stones are made up of 3,000 stones that are either standing in patterns of scattered randomly in this French countryside.
Not only is this prehistoric site the largest collection of standing stones in the world, but there is also no real explanation for their purpose. Were these large stones erected by ancient people to honor their ancestors, used as an astronomical observatory, or just an earthquake detector? Did a famous wizard named Merlin turn Roman soldiers who marched through here into these stones?
There is no telling if there will ever be a true explanation about the Carnac Stones, however, here are 15 things that came to light about these legendary megaliths.
15 What Are The Carnac Stones?
The Carnac Stones are located around the French village of Carnac, in Brittany, and consist of a collection of 3,000 prehistoric standing stones. According to Ancient-Origins, the stones consist of both single standing stones called menhirs and multi-stone clusters called dolmens.
14 Why Are They So Mysterious?
The Carnac Stones in France are the largest collection of megalithic standing stones in the world, but so far no one has ever figured out their purpose. The thousands of standing rocks were cut from local rock and erected by the pre-Celtic people of Brittany.
13 They Make Up The Largest Collection Of Megalithic Standing Stones In The World
Archaeologists date the stones as far back as the Neolithic period which lasted from 4,500 B.C. until 2,000 B.C. However, there is no evidence and not one material found beneath these rocks that can put an exact date on when they were erected, writes Ancient-Origins.
12 There Are Over 3,000 Standing Stones
These 3,000 mysterious pillars dot this French countryside in large rows while others are in the form of dolmen tombs, burial mounds, and individually standing menhirs, explains Historic Mysteries. The main group of stone alignments is 12 converging rows of standing stones going as far as a mile with a stone circle at either end.
11 It Is Unlike Any Other Stones Sites In Europe
Unlike England's famous Stonehenge, the Carnac Stones are unusual because some stones stand in patterns while others are scattered randomly, writes Historic Mysteries. And, unlike Stonehenge, where the stones most likely came from hundreds of miles away, these stones are local and from the area.
10 Some Stones May Be As Old As 4,500 B.C.
There have been numerous theories about the purpose of the stones with popular suggestions that they were burial sites, religious gatherings or used for astronomical purposes. Researchers believe that the stones were arranged in this manner to align with the sunrise on a solstice or equinox, but others strongly disagree.
9 Archaeologists Believe The Stones Were Erected During The Neolithic Period
With all the stones not aligned the same and many scattered along the countryside, it's believed that the builders of the Carnac Stones did not set them up for just one purpose. There are numerous stone circles, rows of stones that go on for over a mile and even mausoleums with roofs made from stone.
8 Visitors Can Find Several Dolmens
There are several dolmens that may have been used as burial tombs and would have originally be covered by a mound of earth, writes Historic Mysteries, however, there is no real conclusion. Mark Cartwright of Ancient History Encyclopedia suggests the stones could also have served as territorial borders.
7 Local Myths Surround The Ancient Stones
There are myths about the stones and how they came to be with including a local myth that states a Roman legion was marching on the grounds when the wizard Merlin turned them into stone. One researcher believed the stones were erected as an earthquake detector while another interpretation is that they were put there by ancient people to honor their ancestors.
6 The Stones Were Used For Astronomical Observations
According to Ancient-Origins, if the stones were used as an astronomical observatory, it is possible that they acted as calendars so that farmers knew the perfect time to plant crops and priests could foretell an eclipse. Researchers also suggest that the prehistoric site's stone markings served as sites for astronomy or alignment with the sun and moon in some way.
5 Or Are They Just A Religious Gathering Place?
With no real explanation for the stones or their true purpose, there are numerous theories about them. As mentioned before, there are theories that it is just a huge lunar observatory and theories that this site was a religious gathering place. But, because there is absolutely no evidence for any of these theories, people tend to believe what they want.
4 These 3,000 Pillars In France Remain A Mystery
The Carnac Stones will be studied for a long time until some sort of explanation is discovered. Again, it is also hard to put a precise date as to when the Carnac Stones were erected. Historic Mysteries states that early settlers dated the stones between 5,000 and 3,000 B.C.
3 Some Stones Stand In Patterns While Others Are Scattered
As with other megalith sites, including England's Stonehenge and Zorats Karer, a prehistoric archaeological site dating back over 7,000 years and featuring over 200 stones, not everyone can agree on the purpose of them. While there has been tons of research done at each site, there still remain a lot more unanswered questions.
2 People Are Moving The Stones
Unfortunately, not everyone is respecting these stones and people have moved them from their original spots to use them as building materials for houses and other buildings. Fifty of these stones were even taken to build a lighthouse and farmers have moved stones so archaeologists keep away from their farms.
1 Will Their Purpose Ever Be Discovered?
We might never know the purpose of the Carnac Stones in France and they might remain a mystery for years to come. It's up to you to decide whether you believe a wizard named Merlin turned Roman soldiers into the stones, if these stones were used as an astronomical observatory, or really any other bizarre idea that might sound a little more accurate.