The Mystery Behind Dolmen de Kermarquer
In the category ‘my hunebed’ we invite people to write about their own personal thoughts about hunebeds and megalithic monuments. Here is a story of Peter van den Hoek.(Archeaoastronomer)
During my research into the alignments of dolmens in Europe on celestial bodies, I often come across that a dolmen is aligned at the point where the sun rises or sets during Celtic Celebrations or Sun Celebrations¹⁺². In contrast to our division of the solar year into four solar positions (sun above the tropics (Joel and Litha) and equator (Ostara and Mabon)) the Celts had a division into eight sun positions, see table Celtic Sun Celebrations. In addition to alignments for the moon, I encounter these eight alignments for the sun again and again when I measure a European dolmen with my compass. So, a clear pattern is starting to form. How beautiful it would be to come across one structure in which all eight alignments can be found as a kind of confirmation that the Megalithic Culture used the same year format as the Celts. After a long search, I finally got lucky last summer when I examined ‘Dolmen de Kermaquer’ in French Brittany, near the famous Carnac stones.
At first glance, Dolmen de Kermarquer does not seem like such a special structure. The floor plan, see drawing, seems rather sloppy with all crooked standing stones of this small dolmen. There are also a number of capstones missing, which means that many visitors do not pay
attention to it. But this dolmen has been built with a knowledge and precision that is truly unsurpassed. Each stone has a function and is placed so precisely that the sun shines on a striking point of the back wall during rise at all eight celebrations. The structure is therefore also a very accurate annual calendar that could still serve 6.500 years later if the missing capstones were put back. This of course requires further explanation and I am happy to give it!
As can be seen on the floor plan, the dolmen consists of a large and small room that are separated by a crooked stone. This stone is deliberately placed crooked, so that the front points exactly to the east (90 °) and is illuminated by the sun during midspring (Ostara) and midautumn (Mabon). We call this the equinoxes, which means equalizing, because day and night are then both exactly the same length (The sun is then 12 hours above the horizon and 12 hours below the horizon). That’s why I call this stone the ‘Equinox Stone’. The large room represents the dark half of the year from midautumn (Mabon) to midspring (Ostara). During the beginning of winter, which the Celts call Samhain, the sun shines during rise right through the middle of the corridor and room at the junction between the two stones that form the back wall. The dolmen Kercado³ a few kilometers away also has this same alignment. From this we can conclude that this moment of the year must have been very important for the Megalithic Culture. The Celts tell about this moment that the veil between the spiritual and physical world is the thinnest and therefore it is easier to travel back and forth. Would the dolmen builders have given so many dolmens this alignment for the same reason, because this alignment is also most common in our Dutch dolmens¹. During midwinter (Joel) the sun shines in the northwest corner of the great room at rise. The sun rises the southernmost at that time, so the days are the shortest and the nights last the longest. Then the sun moves slowly again during rise towards the north, making the nights shorter and the days lengthening. When the sun shines again through the middle of the corridor and room at the connection between the two stones that form the back wall, spring (Imbolc) begins. From this point, the sun moves further north, until it illuminates the equinox stone by rise and it becomes midspring (Ostara). From then on, the sun will start illuminating the small room that represents the light half of the year from midspring (Ostara) through midsummer (Litha) to midautumn (Mabon). This is done in the same way as with the large room. I think it’s explained enough right?
The entire structure forms an annual calendar with eight important calibrating points. Interestingly enough, the moon can also play a role in this! The sun takes one month to travel from the middle of spring (Ostara) to the beginning of summer (Beltain), see the moon symbol on the floor plan. Over the same distance (18°/19°) the sun does two months from the beginning of summer (Beltain) to midsummer (Litha). This is because the sun then travels towards a standstill position (Solstice) and therefore slows down. Together this is three months and therefore one season. If you add the entire cycle together, you end up with 3 x 4 = 12 months and therefore one year. As is hopefully clear, the angles in degrees between the eight different sun positions are the same and you can therefore attach a date to it when the sun rises exactly at these angles. These are the original dates in the table of Celtic Sun Celebrations. With the introduction of the Roman calendar, a number of dates have been shifted to the end of the month. The Megalithic Culture did not work with this calendar at all,
but were in fact much more precise in time measurement than we are now with our modern Roman calendar!
You could argue that these calibrating points were very important for agriculture. But why does the largest room represent the dark half of the year in which there were few agricultural activities? That’s a good question! I believe that the dolmens were mainly used for the spiritual life of the builders. In the winter months there was less physical work to do. The short days and long nights invited to rest and be more spiritually active. Dolmens were the ideal place to become quieter and quieter in peace and safety, unhindered by the cold, and thus to coincide into a knowledge and understanding for which there are no words!
Peter van den Hoek