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The dolmen of a large passage tomb under a threateningly dark sky.

Dolmen de la Madeleine, Gennes

An isolated dolmen in a private field on the outskirts of the town of Gennes, on the banks of the Loire River and not that far from Saumur. There are a number of these megalithic sites in the area – but this one is one of the larger ones. Like many of the more substantial dolmens it has been used by local farmers for centuries. Madeleine Dolmen was used to house a large bread oven; the remains of which are still present in the chamber.

Although the dolmen is on private land, it is accessible to the public – there is even an information panel, in both French and English. There are a number of these dolmens, also called a covered alley, in the area – but this one is not the largest. The Dolmen de Bagneux in Saumur is perhaps the largest – being one of the largest in Europe. The passage is 14 metres long, and 5.7 metres wide, and the inside height is 2.7 metres. Like many of the larger dolmens in built up areas or near small towns, the dolmen does have a history of re-use since it was constructed as a burial monument in the Neolithic.

At this site the dolmen was used to house a bread oven. Although the bread oven is no longer in use, the remains of the oven are still present inside the passage chamber. There are also signs at the entrance that some sort of door has been attached to the dolmen. Apparently it was used to house farm carts. Despite this recent use of the dolmen that has certainly disturbed the archaeological deposit from the Neolithic, excavations were nonetheless carried out within the passage chamber in 1940, during which fragments of human bone and pieces of worked stone were recovered.
Dolmen de la Madeleine might not be the largest, but is still very big.
Looking into the opening of the dolmen, with the bread oven clearly visible.
A close up of the break oven in the dolmen.

Where is the Dolmen de la Madeleine?

About 50 metres to the east of the D69, to the south of Gennes – which is not far from Saumur, on the east side of the road. The dolmen is signposted, but readily noticeable from the road.

Archaeology Travel Writer

Thomas Dowson

With a professional background in archaeology and a passion for travel, I founded Archaeology Travel to help more people explore our world’s fascinating pasts. Born in Zambia, I trained as an archaeologist at the University of the Witwatersrand (South Africa) and taught archaeology at the universities of Southampton and Manchester (England). Read More

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