France: Great Cairn de Barnenez

It was a beautiful day and the sky was blue, the air was crisp and the sun was shining gloriously that we organized a trip to visit a Neolithic wonder called Cairn de Barnenez, since we have always been historical monuments enthusiasts and have visited quite a few over the years.

Europe's largest Mausoleum.

Europe’s largest Mausoleum.

The great Cairn de Barnenez is located near Plouezoc’h, on the Kernéléhen peninsula in northern Finistère of Brittany in France. It is indeed a big pile of stones – 75 meters long, 28 meters wide and 8 meters high and very, very old – about 7,000 years old. It was built between 4, 800 and 4, 000 B.C on a hill overlooking the gorgeous Bay of Morlaix (from the north) and the rolling hills of Brittany. It was then occupied until around – 2, 500 B. C. It is known to be the oldest and largest megalithic burial chamber in the entire Europe and it is the second oldest monument in the world. It is also 2, 000 years older than the first step pyramid of Egypt and it is much, much bigger when compared to Stonehenge in the UK. It is truly awe-inspiring!

For Megalithic enthusiast.

For Megalithic enthusiast.

This massive stone cairn was built in phases. The overall structure covers 11 passages leading to what is believed to be funeral chambers. Unfortunately, 9 out of 11 passages have been sealed off which includes the ones with artwork on the stones. However, we could couch very low to pass through one side of the cairn to the other. I think it’s got a romantic history of being saved in the 50’s from a building company who were quarrying and selling the cairn’s stones.

Stunning facts, stunning monument, and stunning views.

Stunning facts, stunning monument, and stunning views.

Even though this enormous structure is a bit away from the main roads, if you are a megalith buff it is well worth the time and effort. Personally, I appreciate the skill and determination of those Neolithic-to-Bronze-Age people who built the largest mausoleum in Europe. We spent about an hour and a half here. We joined the French-spoken tour and I was kindly translated the gist of it in English by my traveling buddy. I loved the meadow that surrounds the site. It is full of the most beautiful variety of wildflowers, butterflies and bees. When I looked at this wonderful site, I tried to imagine how it would have looked 7000 years ago. To me, it is an impressive testimony of history.



Little Lilly travel tip:

  • It is open 7 days a week except on certain holidays.
  • Reasonable admission charge. We paid 5.50 euros when we went there.
  • There are informative hand-outs and additional information at the reception building.
  • Shops and toilets are available at the reception building.

Cairn de Barnenez indeed looks very interesting. Is it in your bucket list?


4 thoughts on “France: Great Cairn de Barnenez

  1. Wow! That is an impressive site, Little Lilly. I’m glad that the structure was saved from destruction. It’s too bad so many of the passages were closed to the public. I wonder if its anything like the catacombs in Rome. Thank you for sharing. 😉

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