This dolmen, or more correctly a covered alley (also sometimes called a passage tomb) is the largest in the World. The passage is made up of thirty two upright stones, with nine roof slabs. The structure is 19.5 metres long, 4.7 metres wide, and at the highest point inside the passage it is 4.1 metres high. Entering the passage, under an entrance lintel that is 5.5 metres wide and a metre above the ground, visitors enter the anti-chamber that goes back about 3.5 metres. Two transverse slabs mark a doorway into the principal chamber in which the cap stones are markedly higher than that of the anti-chamber. The principal chamber has four subdivisions, marked by three transverse upright slabs. The heaviest of the stones is estimated to be about 40 tonnes in weight.
The megaliths are made of schist, and it is thought they came from an outcrop of similar rock type in a nearby forest near the town of Theil – about 5.5 kilometres away. The dolmen was aligned so that it catches the rising sun at the winter solstice.
No excavations have been carried out at the site, and there are no reports of any pottery, or other artefacts, having been found here. Based on the style of the dolmen, it is thought that the structure was built and used as a funerary monument during the late Neolithic, between 5,000 and 4,500 years ago.
There are local legends associated with the site. Generally, it was believed to have been built by fairies – some believe as a house, others as a temple. Some Eighteenth century writers suggested that it was ridiculous to think of this site as a temple for fairies, rather they believed it was the burial place of an important Roman General. Read more about the legends of this and other megalithic sites in the area in an article listed below.
Facilities & Visiting La Roche-aux-Fées:
Today the dolmen is in a well kept parkland, that has a few picnic tables and a visitors centre, which is only open during the summer.
Where is La Roche-aux-Fées?
The site is quite well signposted from the roads around the nearby town of Janzé.
- Archaeology Travel article: Menhirs, Megaliths and Fairies in North Eastern Brittany