Ancient stones removed in France to build new hardware store
An ancient stone site in western France has been removed to make way for a new hardware store, sparking criticism of the local mayor.
The mayor of Carnac, Olivier Lepick, insisted he adhered to the law in granting planning permission for the new Mr Bricolage hardware store.
The area lies in France’s Brittany region, along the blustery Atlantic coast and is well known for its extensive fields of Neolithic-era stones, called “menhir.”
According to Lepick, excavations carried out in the past few years on the site, which lies 3km away from a protected tourist attraction, determined that it had a “low archaeological value” and did not merit archaeological protection.
The removal of the menhirs was brought to the attention of national media through a blogpost by local amateur archaeologist, Christian Obeltz who accused local authorities of carrying out several actions “denaturing this globally recognized site.”
“The latest being planning permission granted by the mayor of Carnac for a Mr Bricolage store, destroying 39 menhirs,” Obeltz said in a blogpost earlier this month.
The site is part of an application for UNESCO World Heritage Status set to be submitted to the French Ministry of Culture at the end of September, the blogpost said.
“Whether it’s little or not, [the site] has an archaeological value,” Obeltz told CNN affiliate BFMTV.
Meanwhile, Lepick told French news channel CNews on Thursday that coverage of the controversy by French media does “not reflect the reality” of the situation on the ground.
“There were never 39 menhirs in this place. The preventative excavations we carried out in 2015 clearly show this,” Lepick said.
He said that the stones were located in a commercial zone, opposite a service station, near a supermarket and recycling centre.
“It’s really not the kind of images described in certain media articles. I feel like I have destroyed the Mona Lisa when I read certain articles,” Lepick stressed.
“There were not archaeological remains of sufficient value to reject planning permission,” the mayor said.
On Thursday, French far right politician, Marine Le Pen retweeted a link to an article by local French newspaper, Ouest France, calling the removal “deplorable” and remarking that the French state “protects neither our citizens or our heritage.”