Understand the affair of the Carnac menhirs

1. Archaeological diagnosis

In 2014, in Carnac (Morbihan), SAS Au marché des druides wanted to build a Super U supermarket on the plot where the stone blocks were located at the time. The regional prefect prescribed an archaeological diagnosis, conducted by Inrap in March 2015 in the form of eight trenches. These surveys do not allow archaeologists to find remains. On the other hand, the agents of Inrap are interested in two rows of blocks in elevation, then considered as low walls. The diagnostic report presents these two elements as fences formed from around forty Neolithic blocks, probably in their original place for the first line and moved for the second. The conclusion of the report contradicts a report drawn up in 2015 by the Drac (regional directorate of Cultural Affairs) Brittany, which refers to the “character still uncertain, and in any case not major” of these remains: “Only additional observations on the monoliths, or even an excavation, would make it possible to certify the Neolithic origin of this ensemble which could ultimately be included in a good place in the cartography of local megalithic monuments. »

2. Excavation order not executed

This report gave rise, in 2015, to an order prescribing excavations on the plot, a prerequisite for the construction of the supermarket. But the municipality of Carnac finally refuses to grant the permit to develop SAS Au marché des druides, because of the non-regulatory height of the building. Without a developer and without works, the excavation is not carried out. In January 2022, the City modifies its local urban plan to include a new development operation, on the same plot, this time for a Mr. Bricolage store. The development guidelines of the urban planning document highlight the presence of a wetland, but not that of archaeological remains. The building permit was granted in August 2022 to SAS Au marché des druides, the company promoting the DIY store. The forty small menhirs are destroyed.

3. Planning permission, building permit

Same plot, same municipality, same developer: why was the excavation prescribed in 2015 not carried out in 2023? Part of the answer lies in the difference between the permit to develop (or subdivide) to which the Super U project was subject, and the simple building permit required for the work of Mr. Bricolage. A development permit (relating to a plot of more than 3 hectares, divided into lots) is submitted to the Drac, in accordance with the heritage code, while a building permit is not, except in the case where the project concerns an archaeological presumption and prescription zone (ZPPA). The difference in the work permit application, as well as the absence of the site within the limits of an ZPPA, are the reasons why the archaeological potential of the site escaped the Drac, eight years after the diagnosis. Not informed of the work, the State services were unable to enforce the 2015 excavation prescription.

4. Criminal investigation

On June 16, the Lorient public prosecutor’s office opened a criminal investigation, following a complaint filed by a local association for the defense of heritage, joined by Sites & Monuments. The investigation will have to determine the responsibilities of each in this heritage destruction, between the developer, the City and the State services. The stakes are high, because the site is part of the perimeter of the property called “The megaliths of Carnac and the banks of Morbihan”, which includes 557 monuments and is a candidate in 2025 for inclusion on the UNESCO World Heritage List. Unesco.

5. Area of ​​archaeological presumption

Why was the alignment of stones not in the zone of presumption and archaeological prescription? This is one of the questions raised by this destruction. The objective of the State services was to place each of these 557 sites in a ZPPA, an area which automatically requires developers to carry out archaeological research on site, before any work likely to affect the subsoil. The standing stones located on the Chemin de Montauban, in an activity zone, also appear on the national archaeological map, from which the regional prefect defines the ZPPA. The fact that the destroyed unit was not placed in a ZPPA by the State services constituted a major failure. The association Landscapes of Megaliths, which is carrying the nomination, has taken note of this dysfunction, and is ensuring with the Drac that each of the other sites of the future property is now covered by a ZPPA. The timetable for the nomination has not changed, with a nomination for 2025.

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