The Bretons are a cultural grouping located in Brittany in northwest France, where the most outstanding megalithic monuments of Europe are situated. Today, the Bretons consider themselves a separate Celtic people, with a strong nationalist movement(c).
*It was in 1839 that the Rev. Algernon Herbert (1792-1855), Dean of Merton College, Oxford, was the first to use the term ‘megalithic’ in a paper describing the monuments of England and Brittany.*
Since the middle of the 19th century a number of commentators right up to the present have labelled the Bretons as Atlantean. These include R. Cedric Leonard(a), who In support of this idea cites both Stephen Oppenheimer and Herodotus, although he does so some reservations. Hank Harrison wrote Finding Atlantis in which, he supported the idea of a megalithic Atlantis with its centre of power probably located in the Morbihan area of Brittany.
In the 19th century, Ignatius Donnelly quoted Eugene Bodichon as expressing a similar view[021.389]. Bodichon’s opinion is simply based on the temperament and physical similarities between the Bretons and the Berbers of North Africa. Similarly, Gerry Forster refers to Bodichon’s opinion in his The Lost Continent Rediscovered(b). I do not think that the case is proven, even if the legendary kingdom of Ys, reputedly off the Brittany coast, is brought into the debate.
Armorica was the Latin name given by the Romans to what we know today as the Brittany peninsula. The region contains some of the most remarkable monuments created by the megalith builders, such as those found at Carnac and Morbihan,
Plato described the influence of Atlantis reaching as far as Italy and Libya (Tim. 25b). In Europe megalithic structures have been found extending all along the Atlantic seaboard and into the Mediterranean as far east as Italy(a) and all across North Africa including modern Libya and Egypt, it was understandable when some commentators concluded that these megalithic monuments were a cultural expression of the Atlanteans. The evidence available indicates that the spread of megalithic building was effected by a maritime based society. How much of this spread was brought about through military or trade expansion or just migration is not known.
A number of French and German researchers have identified Brittany as the power centre of the Atlantean ‘confederation’, while the American writer Hank Harrison is working on a book in which he will nominate Morbihan as a possible capital of Atlantis. R. Cedric Leonard has also written an interesting article(b) on the megalithic monuments of Brittany.
While megaliths are also found in the Middle East and across Asia as far as Japan, their greatest concentration is in Western Europe with a suggested focal point in Armorica. The legendary sunken city of Ys, often associated with Atlantis, is reputedly located off the coast of Armorica.
- Brittany in northwestern France is sometimes referred to as Little or Lesser Britain. It is one of the most exciting regions of Megalithic Europe. The stone rows of Carnac are unequalled, Le Grand Menhir Brisé was once the largest standing stone in Europe, while Morbihan contains a huge number of dolmens and standing stones.2019 saw a report that “Bettina Schulz Paulsson, an archaeologist at the University of Gothenburg, reexamined some 2,410 radiocarbon dating results that have been assigned to Europe’s megaliths and put them through a Bayesian statistical analysis. Based on the picture the data present, Schulz Paulsson believes that the megaliths were first constructed by dwellers of northwest France during the second half of the fifth millennium BC.” (b) Mike Parker Pearson, Stonehenge’s leading, authority, has endorsed this idea of a French origin for megalith building(c).
The earliest suggestion that Atlantis may have been the connected with the Armorican peninsula came from François Gidon in the 1930’s when he proposed that Atlantis had been situated on an exposed Celtic Shelf stretching from Brittany to Ireland. Unfortunately, he dates the submergence of this land to between 3000 and 1200 BC, which was millennia after that part of the Celtic Shelf had been inundated by the Flandrian Transgression.
Jean Markle was convinced that the Carnac stone were connected with Atlantis. Recently, Sylvain Tristan followed the work of Jean Deruelle in supporting a megalithic Atlantis. Further support has come from Alfred deGrazia and Helmut Tributsch who sees Megalithic Europe as Atlantis with the island of Gavrinis in Brittany as its capital.
The American researcher, Hank Harrison, considers the Morbihan départment as a significant Atlantean location if not the home of its capital.
(a) See: Archive 2501
Hank Harrison (1941- ) is an American writer and publisher and sometimes better known as the father of the singer, Courtney Love and father-in-law of the late Kurt Cobain. Among a range of subjects he has expressed great interest in Megalithic Europe in two of his books, The Stones of Ancient Ireland(a) and Finding Atlantis. In the latter, he supports the idea of a megalithic Atlantis with its centre of power probably located in the Morbihan area of Brittany.
Another recent book by Harrison is Arthur the God(b).
(a) http://www.arkives.com/soai/soai.pdf (offline Mar.2016) see Archive 2930)
The Megalith Builders, who date mainly from the Neolithic Period, are frequently identified with Plato’s Atlanteans. Their remarkable structures were built between the middles of the fifth and second millennia B.C., a period that is compatible with final days of Atlantis according to Plato. The building of megalithic structures in Western Europe appears to have ended just before the beginning of the Bronze Age – coincidence?
Proponents of the idea of a megalithic building Atlantis see the location and extent of the megalithic structures as being in agreement with Plato’s description, particularly his reference to Atlantean influence extending as far as Tyrrhenia and Egypt.
However, there are many features in Plato’s narrative that do not conform to our current knowledge of the megalith builders. There is no evidence that they had writing, irrigation technology or the navigational skills to mount an attack on Egypt/Athens or any other characteristics ascribed to the Atlanteans by him.
On the other hand, if these attributes are just literary flesh applied to a skeleton of historical truth the possibility of a link between the Atlanteans and the megalith builders still remains.
Atlantis enthusiasts are quite happy to associate the megalith builders with Atlantis, as it provides something tangible to enhance the credibility of Plato’s narrative pointing to sites such as Stonehenge or the Maltese Temples. British researcher Robert John Langdon has gone further and proposed that the megalith builders originally came from Africa and settled in Doggerland at the end of the Ice Age, where they established Atlantis. When Doggerland was submerged they migrated to what is now mainland Britain, where they built Stonehenge as a memorial to Atlantis.
While not a new idea, a megalithic connection with Atlantis has recently been given further attention by the French writer Sylvain Tristan who was inspired by Jean Deruelle and Alan Butler. Alfred deGrazia also joined this club as well as the German author Helmut Tributsch who has added his support to the idea of a megalithic Atlantis, specifically locating its capital on the island of Gavrinis in Brittany. A similar claim has been made by Hank Harrison who also believes that the Morbihan region was an important Atlantean centre if not the location of its capital. Further support for a megalithic Atlantis has been given by Walter Schilling who places Plato’s city in the Bay of Cadiz. Robert Temple has recently offered grudging support for the concept of Atlantean megalith builders.
Iberia is also home to very many megalithic strucures of varying types. Recently, lower waters in a Spanish reservoir revealed once more the impressive 144-stone Dolmen-de-Guadalperal, situated roughly halfway between Madrid and the Portuguese border(z) . Efforts are being made to ensure its preservation before the water levels rise again.
As far as I am aware classical writers make no obvious reference to the megalith builders, nor has this omission been commented on by modern writers. However, the numerous indirect references to Atlantis by the same ancient writers are deemed inadequate, which seems consistent with a dearth of information regarding early history.
It appears to me that other questions that have not been definitively answered relate to the identity of the megalith builders, why they stopped building and what happened to them. Another thought is that if the megalith builders lived at the same time as the Atlanteans, is it not strange that both disappeared around the same time, or did they?
Parallel with the megaliths of the eastern Atlantic seaboard are the megaliths of North America. Who built them and when? Are they evidence of very early pre-Columbian voyagers from Europe?(b)
An interesting article combining all the strange aspects of megalith building can be read online(c) which certainly offers food for thought. A paper(d) published in September 2013 gives a good overview of megalithic studies during the past few decades. Walter Haug’s well illustrated website(k) offers a range of previously ignored megalithic sites in Germany.
Much nonsense has been written about the megalith builders, particularly on the Internet, where you find daft ideas such as attributing their construction to aliens(a). The suggestion that extraterrestrials had the technology to travel in space but when they land on earth they have to build observatories with stone is just silly.
A valuable website dealing with the global spread of megalithic monuments, is The Megalithic Portal established by Andy Burnham(g), which has regular updates. Other useful sites are Stone Pages(h) and Megalithic Ireland(i). Another site worth a look is from Sjur C. Papazian(l). There is also a site(j) dealing specifically with the dolmens of Corsica and Sardinia.
In the Middle East dolmens stretch in a line from the Caucasus(s)(p) to the Yemen with a remarkable concentration of them in modern Jordan(m), a fact which prompted a former Dutch ambassador to Jordan, Gajus Scheltema, to write Megalithic Jordan. Jordan is also home to an ancient mysterious 150 km wall, which was 1-1.5 metres high.(u)
Dolmens are also found in more distant lands such as India(r), Korea(n)(v) and Japan(o). It is difficult to look at the worldwide distribution of dolmens and not consider the possibility of some form of global cultural diffusion! Rarely discussed are the widely dispersed megalithic remains found throughout the Pacific islands(q).
There is a well-illustrated website offering an overview of the megalithic culture of Western Europe and the Mediterranean(t).
In February 2019 the Smithsonian Magazine had a report telling us that “Bettina Schulz Paulsson, an archaeologist at the University of Gothenburg, reexamined some 2,410 radiocarbon dating results that have been assigned to Europe’s megaliths and put them through a Bayesian statistical analysis. Based on the picture the data present, Schulz Paulsson believes that the megaliths were first constructed by dwellers of northwest France during the second half of the fifth millennium BC.” (w)
Some years ago, the renowned English archaeologist, Aubrey Burl, concluded after twenty years of study that French immigrants had built Stonehenge(aa). More recently, Mike Parker Pearson, a leading Stonehenge expert, has also endorsed this idea of a French origin for megalith building(x).
The interesting claims of Schulz Paulsson, who place the origins of megalithic construction to Brittany in the fifth millennium BC, may be challenged by a little-known counterclaim that tombs in the Ox Mountains in the west of Ireland have been dated to the seventh millennium BC(y). However, my personal view is that it would be more likely that the practice of megalith building would have spread from the east rather than from Ireland westward!
A rational explanation for the construction of cyclopean masonry has been offered by Professor of Architecture Jean-Pierre Protzen and demonstrated on a YouTube clip(f).
(q) http://davidpratt.info/easter1.htm (section 10)