If you have just visited the dolmens at Les Lacs, you’re on the right road for Bois Bas (the D147 out of Minerve) – but you haven’t left enough time to thoroughly explore this fascinating site. But let’s suppose that you rose early, passed up the pleasures of a stroll around Minerve and a coffee and a croissant, unerringly found dolmens 1, 2 & 3 at Les Lacs, and didn’t try to find the other 3, or 5, or 7 and had packed a lunch – then you should just have time enough to do the place justice. Because if you are used to bleak windswept moorlands and blasted heaths where the tallest item in the landscape is you, and the menhir – then Bois Bas will be a surprise.
Some of the tombs look like this: just perceptibly 2 m. long by 70 cm wide with two small orthostats 50 x 50 and no chevet or table. It faces 235 – just W of SW.
I was lost at the time – I was lost most of the time – bent double and completely disorientated as I stumbled on from one enticing white jumble of stones to another. This is le maquis – a dense thicket of evergreen dwarf-oak, whose faint pathways belong to the 60+ kilo wild boars – as evidenced by fresh unearthings of rooty delicacies all about – and where visibility stops at 10 metres with prickly juniper and box-shrub denying you any hope of finding your way back.
Then there are these:
They are diaclases, fissures familiar to those who know the Burren in Co. Clare, and the Aran Islands. I climbed down in to one, and then quickly out again when I saw the bones –
– they were only some hapless animal that had blundered in. Only a couple of these long deep cracks had capstones –
and they are acknowledged to have played a role in early funerary rites, like so many grottes in this region: places of primary/temporary laying out of the dead, where de-fleshing/desiccation took place before select bones were immured in dolmen.
But what I had come for were these:
This above is numbered 4, by Bruno Marc, and for the time being we’ll have to stick with his scheme, until a more diagrammatic one is drawn up, that takes into account the lesser cistes and tombelles, and les diaclases. La table is 2 m. long and wide. The tomb is 2 m. high x 2 m. wide. It faces 240 – more or less in line with all the others.
Dolmen 7 by Bruno Marc’s reckoning. It leans crazily atop a huge pile of stones – essentially just two slabs, each over 2 m. long and wide.
Dolmen 8, 1m. long x 90 cm. wide x 80 cm high. No capstone, just a vast pile of rocks. S-SW.
You may find yourself here as the sun sets. The long slanting rays have a compelling force – but they also add to the disorientation, and I became blinded in a slow stroboscopic way, light flashing between the boughs and bushes – until tracks and signs lose coherence, like too much neon on a city street. Looking west becomes difficult then painful, and it is with relief almost, that I turn my back on it all and make my way north and east – to the farm, the goats – the living.