On holiday, in a hire car heading towards Poitiers airport via Thouars in Deux-sèvres, we passed ancient-looking stones in fields just outside the village of Taizé-maulais. On the plane back to the UK, I looked in our holiday guide book but could find no mention of them. Graeme Turnbull
There are many such stones throughout France and, in particular, in the area in which you presumably holidayed. Individually known as megaliths, several together constitute a dolmen and may have originally been covered in soil and/or stones to create a sort of cavern.
It’s generally accepted that most were created between 4,000BC and 3,000BC and are often orientated south-east. As to their intended purpose, no-one seems able to say with any real authority. Without a soil/stone covering they may have perhaps been erected with a view to the winter and summer solstice or, with a covering, maybe as burial mounds. Nick Inman, in his book Mystical France (Findhorn Press/ Inner Traditions) has this to say on the subject:
“…it was natural that prehistoric people should want to mark the winter solstice in the middle of the hungry season when the light began to return to the fields and the shadows lengthen. It is quite possible they placed their trust in a cosmology represented by great stones planted in the earth directed at the sky.”
As to them possibly being burial mounds, Nick opines: “It is often supposed that the megaliths are funerary monuments and this may be the case. Prehistoric people had no choice but to come to terms with death – just as we have not – and the stones may have had a purpose of celebrating this rite of passage in the chain of life.”
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Ancient stones are commonplace in France and may have been used to celebrate the solstice