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The Lives of Prehistoric Monuments in Iron Age, Roman, and Medieval Europe$
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Marta Díaz-Guardamino, Leonardo García Sanjuán, and David Wheatley

Print publication date: 2015

Print ISBN-13: 9780198724605

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: November 2020

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780198724605.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM OXFORD SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (oxford.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright Oxford University Press, 2021. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in OSO for personal use. date: 27 July 2021

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Neolithic Standing Stones and Iron Age Stelae in French Brittany

(p.141) 8 Back and Forward
The Lives of Prehistoric Monuments in Iron Age, Roman, and Medieval Europe

Luc Laporte

Marie-Yvane Daire

Gwenolé Kerdivel

Elías López-Romero

Oxford University Press

The history of each place is always unique, and this also applies to each monument. Even the title of this book fits in with a pattern of thought developed by R. Bradley (2010). This approach treats the way in which certain prehistoric monuments continue to focus our attention, and how new significances come to be attributed well after their initial construction. In some cases these monuments are the result of a considerable collective investment. They often represent places of memory, sometimes providing vectors of identity that continue up to the present day. A certain number of these monuments continuously changed their function and configuration through the course of time. They were successively the setting of events that their builders could not have imagined. However, owing to the scale as well as the lasting nature of their achievements, the builders assigned additional unique features to these monuments that others later adapted or simply exploited. Many megalithic monuments of western Europe underwent such a process. Consequently, this chapter also contains the seeds of a more general discussion about the definitions of megalithism (Laporte forthcoming). It is a question of timescales and rhythms, involving lived time just as well as measured time, seen at different geographical scales. This is because the biography of each monument cannot be explained as simply being the sum of events that are unique in each case and specific to each site. Our contribution to this volume takes as an example the standing stones of Brittany. The region considered here includes the depart- ments of Finistère, Morbihan, Côtes d’Armor, Ille-et-Vilaine and Loire-Atlantique; that is to say an area of approximately 34,300 square kilometres. In the popular imagination, the Iron Age stelae of this region are often associated with the standing stones of the Neolithic, as portrayed in one of the world’s best-selling comic books featuring Astérix the Gaul and Obélix the menhir deliveryman. How- ever, for more than a century, archaeologists have always striven to make a clear distinction between material realities that, ultimately, are rather different.

Keywords:   Armorica, Carnac, Finistère, Germany, Hougue Bie, Jersey, Kerhan, Leon, Mayenne, Obélix

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