DOLMENS AND GARIOTTES.

I keep finding new places to explore in The Lot. On this trip several new, to me, villages have been visited, new wines tasted and different restaurants tried. I’ve not been too active walking wise as harbouring  a stiff back. But I needed some exercise as I’m back in France soon to walk the GR70 following Stevenson’s Travels with a donkey. A couple of short walks from the house were done in the cool mornings and then I found a tourist board leaflet describing a walk passing several dolmens and gariottes on a ridge above Prayssac. I was unaware of their existence so was eager to explore. Apparently there are 500 dolmens in The Lot all dating from 2500BC to 1500BC.  Fortunately for the less energetic of our party a drive-able road took us up onto the ridge at about 230m from where the sites were approachable. The route is well waymarked and soon we were at the first dolmen The Three Stone, Quetty Dolmen. Jpeg

The remote ridge and the striking stones give the place an air of prehistory and mystery, all very dramatic. The stones are iron containing sandstone which is found on the ridges. Next was Bertrandoune Dolmen……discovered in 1973 when the stone cairn covering it was excavated. The dolmens are simple burial chambers but it must have taken a lot of man power to erect them. There must be many more hidden in these oak woods.

The other feature of this ridge is the number of Gariottes or Caselles. These are stone shelters from the agricultural past 2 or 3 centuries. They normally have a vaulted construction using no mortar and were used by the workers or shepherds in the fields.Some have a simple window and some a vented roof. Again their presence is very evocative of past times when the rural population would have been far greater than now. Further along the ridge was an area signed as Chaos and that is exactly what it was. Scattered blocks of sandstone at all angles brought here from the Massif Central. These would have been building material for the dolmens.There was a futile search for another dolmen but we located ‘Caesar’s Armchair’ – a carved out seat in a limestone bluff which I’m sure no one knows the origin of.The last gariotte we discovered was an unusual double one – his and hers? What a great stroll through history.

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