Art Principles and History

Prehistoric Art

What is a menhir?

In the Celtic language, men means “stone” and hir means “long.” A translation of “menhir” is therefore “long stone.” Menhirs were roughly shaped single stones likely of symbolic importance to the Neolithic people of northern Europe who made them. An enormous arrangement of these stones, known as menhir alignments, was discovered at Carnac, in southern France. Likely made around 3,000 B.C.E., the Neolithic people of the area placed thousands of heavy menhirs in a series of rows nearly four thousand feet long. The exact purpose of the menhir alignments at Carnac remains a mystery.


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