Sunday, March 09, 2014

Tuchenn Gador

Out early onto the moors this morning in glorious weather, all around the summit of Tuchenn Gador. This is topped by a natural rock formation (not a megalith, although many climb all the way up in hope) of schist and quartzite, hence the sparkles in the surface. Thanks to the mishearing or misunderstanding or sheer carelessness of an 18th century French map-maker who neither knew nor cared about the Breton language, it is often marked Tousaines (All saints) on maps to this day. Tuchenn actually means an eminence or mound, sometimes a burial mound, so Tuchenn Gador (Kador) is the 'mound of the chair,' in the sense of throne-like rocks. The views are exceptional from the summit, taking in the crests all around Lac St-Michel and the widespread tourbières or peat-bogs.
There are many little cairns of stones along the paths to the top, gradually built up by modern walkers and pilgrims. Some want to mark their own passage, out of a sense of personal achievement or in the age-old way of men determined to mark the landscape with evidence of their ability to conquer it. The inspiration of the neolithic megaliths is all around in this part of Brittany. Others are honouring elemental deities and nature itself, for it is on the moor on such a day as today that one is forcefully aware of the interplay of earth, air, fire and water.

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