Saturday, January 01, 2011

FIGEAC area: The largest Dolmen of the Lot


The twenty tonne rock we’re lying on is the dolmen of Pierre Martine, which has been here for about 4000 years. Concrete piers were added to the side-slabs in recent decades after the capstone was broken in two. There’s a small burial chamber, accessible to your average eager malamute archaeologist. While there is a joke in Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade that Indie was named after the dog, the surprising background to this is that the name comes from George Lucas’ malamute Indiana, who also inspired the wookie Chewbacca. There are obvious parallels between Indiana Jones and a malamute’s propensity for excavations and hair-raising adventures.  Back on the farm, there’s a smallish concrete box near our house which connects a couple of plastic aqueducts. Munson will sit before it all day, alert and ears cocked, as if it were a pharaoh's burial chamber. I suspect rabbits or moles might occasionally pass through it, but have yet to find any trace of their movements or any primitive rodent ceremonies being carried out in the box. However if there are indeed small furry druids operating in the area, Munson will unearth their secrets.

Dolmen de la Pierre Martine

Dolmen de la Pierre Martine

The capstone is about seven metres long, sitting quite securely on the new foundation. Originally it would have rocked on the side slabs. Once it would have been covered with earth to form a barrow, but given the great passage of time since their construction, this is weathered away to leave the stone table skeleton.

Dolmens are found all over the world, with the largest one in Europe having a 150 tonne capstone. Bondi and I went looking for one in the Burren region of Ireland, but got a bit lost in a maze of small roads and never found it.

A short drive from the dolmen is the Lac de Lacam, with the small stone shepherd’s hut that is emblematic of the region.

Lac de Lacam

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