The Standing Stones of Er Lannic, Morbihan

The Gulf of Morbihan is famous for its mild climate and pretty ports, which are popular with tourists and sailors alike. Today it is peppered with around forty islands of various shapes and sizes, but it was not always this way. Thousands of years ago this huge bay was a much dryer place, and before it was consumed by the sea, these islands were the highest hilltops of a large and complex prehistoric landscape. A number of the islands also feature fascinating megalithic monuments, and one of the most intriguing of these is the stone (semi)circles of Er Lannic.

The island of Er Lannic, Morbihan

The island of Er Lannic, Morbihan

As a protected bird sanctuary, it is not possible to land on Er Lannic, but you can take a boat trip which skirts round its rocky shores. From a distance, the island looks rather craggy and uninviting, but as the boat approaches its southern side an interesting feature emerges. First you notice a huge standing stone towards the top of the island, then more stones pop up and soon a large semicircle of menhirs becomes clear. On the day of my visit, each stone seemed to be topped by its own proud seagull.

The standing stones of Er Lannic, Morbihan

The standing stones of Er Lannic, Morbihan

In fact, many more of these stones lie beneath the waterline, and recent investigations have revealed another stone semicircle below the water. The largest stone measures an impressive 5.4 metres tall, and a number of cists containing bones, charcoal, flints and pottery were also discovered by modern archaeologists. Although the purpose of the monument is not clear, it has been dated to around 3000 BC. My visit to Er Lannic made me wonder what other magical treasures lie under the waves of the Gulf of Morbihan – it is surely monuments like this that gave rise to the local myth of Ys, an ancient city that once stood on the coast of Brittany which was destroyed by the a huge flood after its citizens descended into sin and debauchery.

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9 Responses to “The Standing Stones of Er Lannic, Morbihan”

  1. I like the mental image of a standing stone circle topped by seagulls.

  2. This is very interesting as the type of location for the stones is the first I have ever encountered before. So, when it was initially erected it would have been atop a hill rather than surrounded by water with just the top visible?

    • Yes that is right, although I have read that Er Lannic was already an island by the time the Romans arrived – rising water levels mean that what was once a huge valley is now a bay, with only the highest hill tops surviving as dry land. The amazing cairn of Gavrini is on a neighbouring island too, that’s where I took the first photo from. Well worth a visit!

  3. Wow! That is amazing…at least it is protected – for now. But I would like to get on that island…..

  4. How enchanting! Another dimension to archaeology altogether. And a lost city below the waves – echoes of Lyonesse and Cantref y Gwaelod. You find the most amazing places! 🙂

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