Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Dolmens and More

After a quick stop at home for a little lunch, I continued my explorations for dolmens on the other side of the Lot. Crossing the river at Salvignac-Cajarc, I drove in the direction of Villefranche turning off the main road at Lacepelle-Balaguier. From here (and for the rest of the afternoon!) it was narrow winding roads, up and down and around steep valleys and through tiny, crumbling villages. I braked quickly when I saw a dolmen sign and pulled into a dirt turn-off. Following a path, I walked for several meters before being stopped abruptly by a barbed-wire fence. "Where the heck is the dolmen?" I muttered as I surveyed the area. Seeing nothing, I turned around to go back and caught just a glimpse of what I was looking for through the trees and bushes. You can imagine how hard this thing would be to see once everything is leafed out!

Really quite nice once you get up close to it.

I really hit pay dirt on my next dolmen stop. Located just outside Martiel, there are several dolmens and other structures along a 8.5 km circuit of maintained trail. Since my knee still isn't quite up to that kind of hike, I opted to walk only to the first three.
They all kind of look alike after awhile,eh?

But here's the 'more' part. A few meters from the first dolmen is this basin in a large, flat stone...
Called the 'bassin de bois; (basin of wood), it's about 40 cms in diamenter and 10 cms. deep. It's difficult to see in this photo, but the bottom of the basin is imprinted with what looks like the rings of a cut tree. It's thought that the people who made this (and erected the dolmens) used a tree trunk to press into soft clay which eventually hardened in the sun to make the basin. It's not known for sure what it was used for...perhaps for food storage, perhaps to collect rain water for purification rites or held the victim's blood for use during a burial ceremony!

1 comment:

  1. I've enjoyed your dolmen quest. I am also a great dolmen fan. There's a good one near Limogne which you find if you follow the signs along the little lane just by the café. It's called le dolmen du lac d'Aurié. In fact, it looks very like no 3 in your post here. But, as you say, they tend to resemble each other after a while!