Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Myths and Legends of Brittany

Welcome to the Land of Enchanters:
Myths and Legends and the Fairies and Gnomes unique to Brittany.  Read the story of Merlin - (Mir Dan in Brittany) and about Standing Stones - Mégalithes.

Alignements - These are narrow and tall stones  in lines and there are many of these, the best known at Carnac. At Plessis-Balisson, the alignement stone close to the village was once part of a Druid cemetery. In Languidic, the alignment stones are called Soldats de saint Cornély
Dolmens - These are frequent and superstition has it that these were created by fairies.  One story is that a dolmen, at Collinée had nothing left but a flagstone which bore the inscription  "Qui me tournera, gagnera". Two peasants attempted this and then read Qui m'a tourné n'a rien gagné"  which was not quite what they had anticipated as it meant whoever turned the stone gained nothing.  However a third peasant took the stone home, broke it and found it held hundreds of pieces of gold.
Menhirs - These are groups of stones and they too have their various stories - for instance at Locarn, two blasphemous priests were turned into Menhirs.
Steles -  Some of these hemispherical stones are considered to be fertility symbols and at Senven-Léhart, legend has it that sterile women used to visit the stone at the chapel of Saint Tugdual at nighttimes to rub their stomachs against the round stone  and  nine months to the day later had a baby.
Tumulus - These are earth covered dolmens and impressed the Breton peasants greatly in the past.  At Kermein in Langonnet, the tumulus is 40 metres in diameter and considered to be the tomb of the King Morvan.

St Michael and the Devil  
When you next go to Dol de Bretagne - cast a glance at nearby Mont Dol, which rises up out of the reclaimed marshlands.  The story is that the Devil was furious when Mont St Michel was built and full of resentment towards St Michael to whom the monastery was dedicated.  The Devil and St Michael agreed to compete for ownership of the Mount, which the Devil claimed to be his and decided that whoever could jump the furthest would win.  The Devil fell into the River Couënon but the air lifted St. Michael's wings and he was swept to Mont Dol. On one of the rocks of Mont Dol there is the footprint of St. Michael and the claw mark of the Devil. 
Saint Suliac
The town of St. Suliac was built around a monastery founded by Suliac, son of Bramail, King of Wales. The king was furious with his son taking holy orders but gave in to his wishes eventually. After his father's death, one of his sister-in-laws was dependent on marrying him in order to stay on the throne when Sulliac's brothers died. The ambitious Hararné was furious at his refusal and determined for revenge so Sulliac took a boat to the estuary of the Rance and sailed to the first isthmus which is now known as the St. Suliac pool.  He was given land by the chief of the region and he and other  monks cultivated the land growing grain and grape vines.  The  town of  Rigourden, neighboured the monastery  but was the other side of what was then the narrow Rance which could be crossed by stepping stones. The people there  kept donkeys who frequently escaped and ran riot over the monastery lands. Sulliac magically froze the animals where they stood and only released them on their promise not to cross the river and enter the monastery grounds.  He also widened the River Rance at that spot.


Another Leap through the Air - from  Dinan  and the founding of Lanvallay
Valay was a monk from Landevennec who set up home near the capital of the Diablintes.  Valay was very concerned about the conduct of the women of the area and decided to reprimand them firmly about their gossip and cruel tongues. They did not take kindly to this and chased Valay, with the intention of stoning him and the poor monk could hardly get away from their fury.  He made a dash for the high rocks at the top of the valley of the Rance and the women triumphantly drew near, thinking they had caught him.  However he leapt into the air and landed on the other side of the river on rock.  His footprints are there to this day. His home became Dinan and the right hand side of the Rance where he landed was called Lanvallay!

The Birth of the Morbihan
The Gulf of Morbihan is an inland sea in the South of Brittany.  There are  368 islands  there.  It is said that when the fairies were driven out of the forest of Brocéliande the tears they shed formed the inland sea.  The fairies had garlands of flowers which threw into  the sea and each flower transformed into an island. Three garlands were thrown into the Atlantic and turned into the islands Houat and Hoedic. The fairy queen's garland became the  Isle of Beauty.
Full article:
 Myths and Legends of Brittany

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