Near where I live now there’s a dolmen. A dolmen is a Stone Age rock structure which looks like a table. It’s got three standing stones, each about ten feet high, and a massive 5 ton slab of stone laid on top as a cover. Originally it’s thought that the walls were filled with slabs of stone, then the whole dolmen was covered with a cairn of stones. The cairn and most of the walls have gone since it was built about 3500 to 5000 years ago.
There’s a small plaque with some information on it, but otherwise it’s just sitting in the middle of a vineyard.
Look at the size of the roof! It weighs about five tons. How on earth did they get it here then hoist it up to sit on these standing stones? Seriously, how did they do that? And where did the stones come from? If they came from far away, how did they transport them? When you step inside things begin to get even more interesting.
It feels cool and damp inside, and the sun makes it way in casting long shadows as it does so. The sound quality in there is startling. It is such an open structure that it comes as a complete surprise to hear a kind of echo. It feels impossible to resist singing, or calling out, just to hear the quality of the sound.
Nobody knows the purpose of this dolmen. Was it a burial chamber? A structure for the celebration of rituals or ceremonies? We don’t know. Of course, when it was built there were no vines here, so I’m guessing the makers would look out over the fields and have a great view of the surrounding countryside.
The underside of the roof has these damp patches on it, and between the sun, surrounding puddles, and passing clouds, the wetness on the stone shimmered strongly suggesting the waves of the sea. Which was made even stranger when I looked more closely at some of the stones –
The stone is a mixture of limestone and iron, but there are many little fossil shells in it, which, when you are standing on top of a hill in the middle of the Charente, miles from the coast, is pretty bizarre!
I love the way the lichen grows on some of the surfaces….tracing spirals and circles –
Something of the quality of this whole structure forces you to slow down, take your time and just be there. It really feels as if you are in touch with the deep past. I was going to say the distant past, but the strange thing is, when you stand under here, touching the stone, the past doesn’t feel distant at all, just deep….like roots.