A menhir is a drawn up stone, planted out of ground with the recent Préhistoire (approximately 3500 with 2000 av. J. - C.) or much more rarely with the Protohistoire (in France e.g.: menhir of Ensérune in Herault and Gallic menhirs of the age of Iron in Brittany). It can be established isolated from it or in alignment, sometimes, more rarely several menhirs can be laid out in circle, one speaks then about “circle of stones” or “ Cromlech ”.
This stone can be cut (column, almond, anthropomorphic flagstone, etc) or to be planted more or less rough; in this last case one speaks rather about “stone raised” that of menhir.
This term was built starting from the Breton maen , “stone”, and to hir , “long”. However the term more used into Breton is Peulven or Peulvan (" place with pieu" , generally included/understood like " pile of pierre"), but menhir is attested in certain place names in Brittany, like Prajou-Menhir with Trébeurden.
In other areas of France, the expressions “hones planted”, “raised stone”, “long stone” (in high Brittany) or their equivalent in regional language are often present on the land registers.
It seems that it is Theophilus Malo Corret of the Tower of Auvergne which, the first, officializes the term “menhir”, in its work Origines Gallic. Those of the most former people of Europe drawn from their true source or research on the language, the origin and antiquities of Celto-Breton of Armorique, to be used with the modern old story and of these people and for that of the French , published between 1792 and 1796.
Its name “menhir” will quickly be relayed by Pierre Jean-Baptiste Legrand d' Aussy (1737-1800).
“One said to me that into low-Breton these rough obelisks are called rear-men-ir (1). I adopt all the more readily this expression, that with the advantage of saving periphrases to me, it still offers that to me to belong to France, and to present to the spirit a precise direction and a word whose pronunciation is not too unpleasant.
- the need where was seen the Breton nation to imagine an expression to indicate this kind of monument, seems to announce that it had of it at it a very great quantity. : (1) Ar-men-ir , literally long stone. Ar , in the Breton language, of the same qu Al in the Arab language, is the definite article which answers our the , the ; to transport in our language by uniting ours there, would be a fault, because would be to employ two articles instead of one. I will thus say to menir , and not L to almenir ; just as one says the the Koran , and not L the Koran . ”
DescriptionThere exist engraved, carved menhirs (France, Rouergue) and even painted (Spain).
The “ inscribed menhirs ”, set up between the Neolithic final and the Bronze Age, are remarkable because they are menhirs to the anthropomorphic forms engraved (sometimes on the 2 faces) of attributes in Bas-relief (sometimes carved in Ronde-bosse) like the face, the centres, the arms with the hands, the legs and the feet, but also the ornaments (collars, pendeloque, stick, mysterious object), of the weapons, the cross-belt, the belt, the folds of clothing, the hair in braid, etc
DistributionThese monoliths are present a little everywhere in the world. In all Europe, but also in Africa or Asia for example.
One finds inscribed menhirs in several areas of Europe; in France there is of it a strong concentration in Rouergue () with more than 120 inscribed menhirs, Languedoc with a score of statues and in Provence. In Corsica, several tens of inscribed menhirs were inventoried a little everywhere in the island (sites megalithic of Filitosa and Palaghju in particular).
FunctionIn the case of stones raised to the coarse forms and whose material does not seem to have been worked carefully, one thinks that these monuments were perhaps kinds of terminals .
These stones, according to their establishment, could then have marked the limits of a territory or have announced a monument near to the dolmen type or a place of worship. Sometimes still the raised stone belongs to a together , circle of stones (Cromlech) or alignment for example, which constitute this place of worship or gathering…
On the other hand, of many monuments take a more or less affirmed anthropomorphic form and much of others show a phallic form. Whatever dimensions of the monolith, giant menhir or small stele, the form and sometimes the figurations engraved that the men affected to them let think that it existed there a devotion with the celestial powers (stone pointing towards the sky) or chtoniennes (enracinée stone), probably a worship dedicated to anthropomorphic divinities , male and female, gods and goddesses of the Neolithic era.
The term idol is then employed by many specialists to mark the role of the monolith and the religious or magic direction with which it is charged.
Attributes of many inscribed menhirs (cross-belt, object, stick, weapons…) also led the archeologists to put forth the assumption of a worship of the ancestors : in certain cases, the inscribed menhir could have represented an important ancestor, founder perhaps… The assumption of the representation of a chief or another important character of alive sound is not isolated for as much.
The monument, by prestige that it confers to him, would sacrilize a remarkable character thus and would raise it with the guardian statute of divinity.
BeliefsCertain menhirs were christianized, i.e. one engraved a cross on a face or planted at their top (e.g. menhirs of Men Marz, of St Duzec). One thus wanted to remove with the menhirs, monument prehistoric thus essentially pagan, his character " hérétique" and not-Christian while carrying crosses on the stone. The pagan monument becomes thus a stone like another.
Many menhirs are carrying legends having especially milked to the fertility. Thus, of many legends report that it was necessary that the women rub the belly on certain menhirs considered fertile so that they are pregnant in the year.
Other menhirs were supposed to support the arrival of the rain. That explains why in certain areas like the Cevennes, it was not rare that once the year a ceremony is held with the foot of the menhir to require the rain.
a Breton legend tells that the menhirs will drink in the ocean once per annum, the night of Christmas between the first and it twelfth stroke of midnight, discovering with their foot the Trésor which they hide the remainder of time. The capture of the treasure is in spite of very difficult, because the menhirs return in their place as quickly as they left, crushing all on their passage. Another Breton, and Christian legend this time, known as that the Alignements of Carnac are Roman soldiers changed into menhirs by God to punish them to continue and to want to kill holy Cornely.
For the " géobiologues ", the menhirs would be kinds of antennas energy or needles of acupuncture. Allegedly always installed on a water current and often on crossings of waves known under the name of networks Curry or Hartmann, they would be used to collect good energies or to neutralize negative energies. Many would function still today, provided that they were not moved or were disorientated. Because, with the eyes of the aforesaid geobiologists, a moved menhir is " mort" , and can even become negative and dangereous because of amplification of close negative energies. (Example of the menhirs of Monteneuf in Brittany. On 40 menhirs which had rocked and which were mechanically rectified, 37 would be " morts". Only 3 are still " actifs")
- Large broken menhir of er Grah to Locmariaquer, Morbihan, largest of the world
- Champ Pare
- Fjärås in Sweden
- Pierre Brunehaut
- Wéris in Belgium
- Plouarzel the menhir of Kerloas
- Saint-Sulpice-with-Faleyrens and the menhir of Pierrefitte
- Mên-year-Tol in the Cornouailles
BibliographiesTo look further into the subject, you can consult, inter alia, the following works:
- Acts of the days of studies of the inscribed menhirs at St Pons of thomières, 1984. Archaeological federation of Herault, regional Park of High-Languedoc, 1987.
- Acts of the 2nd international symposium on the megalithic statuary with St Pons of thomières, 1997. Archaeological federation of Herault, regional Park of High-Languedoc, 1998.
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