“Oho!..that gleam in your eyes tells me you have an idea!’ Said Getafix, the Gaul Druid wizard.
“Yes, I have. If the Romans want Menhirs, we’ll provide them”, said Asterix, “will you lay on magic potion for everyone who wants to make them?”
“By all means, let us promote growth of the menhir industry, our village will become the biggest menhir production centre in the entire ancient world.”
“And the funny thing is, we still don’t know what menhirs are for.” Said Getafix, a smug grin on his worn face.
– Obelix and Co.
As we wander south along the west coast of Corsica, my spouse is reading the Rough Guide to France.
“Let’s anchor in Tizzano, there are menhirs close by” said my spouse.
“Cool, I’m sure Obelix made them”
Off we went in search of menhirs. Hiking six miles along a rutted dirt track that meander past vineyards and mequis, stretching over the hills into the half-distance. We found them at the Alignement de Palaggiu, where the largest concentration of menhirs in Corsica stands. It was hot and humid, thunder (or was it the Gauls, chiseling away, making menhirs) rumbling, to make the morning more surreal.
The menhirs stands in rows, dating from 1800 BC, covered in lichen, old, ancient, worn. Two hundred and fifty-eight menhirs. Walking between them I could not help by admire these stones. What were they used for? Menhirs are found all over the world, Scotland, England, Ireland, France, Iran, Armenia, India and even in South America. Thousands scattered all over the world.
Archeologists find few clues to their function, as Getafix stated, but a theory suggest these, here in Corsica, were some sort of magical deterrent to invaders because of their near to the coast.
The tallest one was about seven feet, but I guess they must have been taller. I mean 3812 years is a long time, wind and weather silently wearing them down, and to think after all this time, most are still standing. Astounding, that’s what it is. Leaning close to the tallest one, I hug it and press by ear to the stone. Did it whisper me its secrets. Yes, and I’m not telling. The stories these stones can tell, the things they saw. Imagine thousands of years of history, and I standing there too. In this place at this time. A bit of me will stay there, a few molecules, mingling with the universe.
Standing and some laying silently between the maquis and wildflowers, they will be there for another 3000 years and more. Waiting for…who knows. I don’t think they care, wars, famine, cataclysmic events, weather, nothing matters. Only the lichen will eventually break the stone down to dust, in a few million years or so.
While these stones stand as sentinels, for future generations, we’ll search for our own magical place, in this world. And if we are lucky, leaving a legacy that will stand the test of time.
Hiking back to the boat, I passed a perfect circle of gnarled olive trees, planted near a ruin, not far from the stones. In ancient history circles are magic places if you believe Joanne Harris’s ‘Runemarks’. Standing in the middle of the circle, I closed my eyes and listened. It was quiet except for the distend rumble of thunder and cicadas. I wasn’t transported to another realm, but I felt something. Something bigger than me.
This world is a magical place.
Like August Rush believes in magic, the magic of music, like Kath Unsworth believes in the magic of minuscule moments, I believe in magic too.
And why not, life might just be dull, otherwise.