Sunday, February 13, 2005

the rock hunters

Last Wednesday, the last beautiful spring-like day before Winter came back and smacked us in the face, we went hunting for rocks. Not any old rocks, mind you, but dolmens.

"Do what?" I hear you all exclaim. I found a handy definition here:

(French, from Breton tolmen "hole of stone") A megalithic (large-stone) tomb with one large flat stone laid on several upright stones. Dolmens were usually originally covered by an earthen hill or barrow.

Now that we've gotten that out of the way, I can show you the three dolmens we discovered.

Click "Tell me more" to continue!

I'm not going to go into great detail about where these are, as I'm just too lazy to go get the map, but they are all in the surrounding area of Troyes, and not more than 45 minutes away. If you would like to exactly where they are, please email me and I'll be happy to try to give you directions.

Luckily, the first one wasn't very difficult to find, as there was a very clear sign where we needed to turn off the road. The weird thing was that it pointed us in the direction of a huge tract of land. When we saw the stones, I was amazed to find that they were literally in the middle of the field. Here, I've crudely drawn an arrow so you can see it:

Why am I suddenly reminded of "Stonehedge" from Spinal Tap?

It's a good thing we came in winter - we never would have found it in the summer for all the wheat!

Rather impressive, eh?

Yep, that's our car.

There's only so much fun to be had looking at a dolmen in the middle of a field, so we hopped in the car and headed to the next one on the map.

This one was a little more difficult to find, as there was no sign on the road whatsoever that there could possibly be a dolmen anywhere to be found. What I thought was a town indicated on the map was actually a private residence behind a big gate and a guest house and what looked an awful lot like a guard house. We parked near the gate and continued down the path skirting the woods on foot. There was a small sign tacked up to a tree that pointed into the woods (and I wish I'd taken a picture of it!) and it wasn't far from the road at all.

This one seems way more natural, as though it were a cave leading into the ground instead of a man-made structure. Granted, it was likely put together 2500 years ago, but still, you know?

Finally, we went off on the most difficult search of all. This one was located in the middle of a forest. Once we drove into the forest, I caught out of the corner of my eye a sign next to a dirt road that was blocked by a metal gate. But sure enough, there was another dolmen sign, so we parked near the gate and headed down the dirt road.

We got all the way to a dead end with nary a sign or stone to lead us the way, which took us a good half an hour. We decided it wasn't really worth hiking off in the woods when we had no idea where the thing was, so we headed back. Well, wouldn't you know it, about halfway back, Steph caught something in the corner of his eye. We marched through the woods and there it was, in all its glory:

This one looks the most like your stereotypical dolmen that we saw, because it actually looked like a table:

We followed the path that lead up of the dolmen, and of course it led us back to the main dirt road, and there was no sign at all (we carefully looked, in case we'd missed it the first time!). About this time, the shadows were getting long, the air was really starting to cool off, and it was time to leave off searching for big rocks for another sunny spring day.

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