Perched on the highest point of the Gulf of Morbihan (24 meters), the cairn of Gavrinis (Gavriniz in Breton), alone on its island, rests from its long journey through time. Neolithic monument, its age is estimated at around 5,500 years. This pile of stone, the cairn, covers a tumulus, in other words a funerary corridor, made up of 27 stones placed vertically.
On the walls of the inner path of the tumulus, almost every stone bears engravings, some of which are marvelous and very fascinating. In the famous words of a famous unknown, this monument is “The Sistine Chapel of the Neolithic”. The Neolithic corresponds to this period of humanity which revolutionized our destinies, making us pass from the stage of hunter-gatherer to that of farmer-breeder. Humans settled down and began to build cities and monuments, some of which are dedicated to their prestigious dead. Such is the history of the tumulus of Gavrinis, contemporary of the famous alignments of Carnac. After extensive research I found drawings of these engraved stones dating from the mid- 19th century. My job was, for 6 months, to recreate these patterns probably drawn by candlelight. Using graphics software, I overlaid these very low- quality original drawings with hundreds of thousands of dots to achieve the graphic quality of the drawings you see today, and to reveal their beauties in a more obvious way. Six months was a long time, but so little compared to the 5,500 years of these engravings. Have a good trip.
«What distinguishes the monument of Gavrinis from all the dolmens I have seen is that almost all the stones composing its walls are carved and covered with bizarre designs. They are curves, straight lines, broken, traced and combined in a hundred different ways.» – Prosper Mérimée – 1835
GavriniZ, a Breton regional entity, does its utmost to work primarily with Brittany, a challenge that is not always easy. This requirement is also in order to avoid long energy-consuming journeys. The designer of the project (also author of books), Stéphane Guillerme – Le Floch, is unquestionably Breton and has traveled for around 16 years, bag on his back, through around fifty countries before returning to settle in the country of Vannes, his ancestral family territory where he grew up. Breizh da viken!
Gavrinis in videos
Discovered in 1832, the site of Gavrinis keeps many mysteries that many scientists are trying to elucidate with the best technical means of the moment. A decade ago, Serge Cassen and his team digitized the engraved stones of the tumulus in 3D in order to obtain a result that best respected the morphology of the place. Exciting
Short visit to the tumulus of Gavrinis, with a short detour to Locmariaquer, on the site of “La table des Marchand”, another Neolithic high place located at the entrance to the Gulf of Morbihan. Visit in the company of Serge Cassen and his team who will make you discover a remarkable fact linking these two unique sites.
Megalithism explained by archaeologist Yannick Lecerf. This short video sheds light on the subject through a few questions and answers. Where did the builders of the Neolithic monuments come from? Did Obelix carve menhirs? What language did these people speak? Here are some of the topics covered.
From the Fertile Crescent (Middle East) to Northern Europe, explore a little of this long journey with its answers and its many questions. We were still at the time of orality, writing appeared a little later, sometimes leaving us a little in a mental fog.
For those who speak English, a short turn around on the site of Gavrinis in the company of Howard Crowhurst and the English team of Megalithomania. Follow them and enter the magic of the place. Enjoy the trip.
30 minutes with Jamy, Sabine and the little voice. The cairn of Gavrinis and the alignments of Carnac are vestiges of the Neolithic period, this period of human history which has revolutionized our lives and our cultures until today. So do not hesitate to follow the team of “C’est pas sorcier” who were happy to shed light on the subject.
This fascinating conference is presented by the archaeologist specializing in recent prehistory, the scholar Jean Guilaine. It traces the spread of “our” Neolithic, from its basin of origin (The Fertile Crescent), around 9,000 BC, to the Iberian Peninsula, around three millennia later.
One last little video for our passionate but non-French-speaking friends. The presenter mainly uses views from Google Earth (and seems to confuse underwater megalithic sites with oyster beds). He also uses other images gleaned from the internet to help you discover some aspects of Gavrinis, the island and the cairn.
In the commune of Bougon (Deux-Sèvres) there is also a necropolis dating from the Neolithic period. A museum was created in that village and the tumulus of Gavrinis was reproduced there. This short video allows you to visit this place which has the quality of not damaging the original monument.
This short but interesting report is for the particular attention of our non-French- speaking friends. You will see some of the famous alignments of Carnac. In Locmariaquer you will discover the great broken menhir as well as “La table des Marchand”. And finally you will take the boat to reach the sites of Gavrinis and Er Lannic.
One hour of time travel. At the heart of the changes experienced by Neolithic men is the transition from a hunter-gatherer lifestyle (generally nomadic but not always) to that of a settled farmer-breeder. Live this evolution through this magnificent report.
Gavrinis in articles
Gavrinis in book
“The prehistory of Morbihan”
of Yannik Rollando
Book written by Yannik Rollando with the collaboration of Yves Coppens and published in 1965 by La société polymathique de Vannes. Book out of print but still quite easy to find second-hand.
“The islands of Gavrinis and Er Lannic”
of Yannik Rolland
This book by Charles-Tanguy Le Roux originally published in 1985 by the Ministry of Culture was subsequently republished and updated 20 years later. This last publication of 2006 is published by Jean-Paul Gisserot.
of Charles-Tanguy Le Roux
This book was produced by Charles-Tanguy Le Roux and published in 1985 by the Ministry of Culture. Its full title is “Gavrinis et les îles du Morbihan – Les mégalithes du golfe”.
of Illès Sarkantyu
This book of photographs by the Hungarian artist living in France Illés Sarkantyu was produced in 2017 by the Domaine de Kerguéhennec. It contains a preface by the also Hungarian artist Janos Ber.
“Carnac, Locmariquer and Gavrinis”
of Charles-Tanguy Le Roux and Yvon Boëlle
This little book is published in several languages by Ouest-France editions. The texts are by Charles-Tanguy Le Roux and the photos by Yvon Boëlle.
“The islands of Gavrinis and Er Lannic”
of Yannik Rolland
This little book by Yannik Rollando, former president of the Société Polymathique du Morbihan was published in 1960 by the Société polymathique de Vannes. Sold out for a very long time but it can still be found sometimes.
Getting to Gavrinis
To reach the island of Gavrinis and visit its cairn, you can take a boat from the port of Larmor-Baden. It is the cheaper. The crossing takes about fifteen minutes. A guide then accompanies you from the Gavrinis slipway to the megalithic site for a 1.5-hour guided tour. Other departures are also offered from Port-Navalo, Locmariaquer and Vannes, depending on the season. Fares and times differ between companies and departure points.
You can also download the free BALUDIK / GAVRINIS application to make the course more enjoyable for children and adults.