Open main menu

Page:A book of folk-lore (1913).djvu/69

This page needs to be proofread.


the chalk tombs, but which it was difficult to execute in granite. On one of the slabs of a dolmen, near Loudun, that I examined, was cut a celt, and a cdt is also cut on the huge upper stone or table of the famous dolmen of Confolens. In Brittany, where the incoming Celts from Wales and Cornwall overflowed the land and submerged the earlier peoples, these former have been largely influenced by the people they treated as belonging to a lower stratum of civilisation.

Here the cult of Death has acquired extraordinary importance, and M. Anatole Ie Braz, a Breton folklorist, has written a treatise on it, and collected the stories he has heard relative to it. In Leon Death may be said to reign in undivided supremacy and tinctures all existence, every amusement, every occupation. La Mont is in Breton the Ankou, who travels about the country in a cart picking up souls.

At night a wain is heard coming along the road with a creaking axle. It halts at a door, and that is the summons. A spirit passes, and the Ankou moves on. Marillier, who wrote a preface to M. le Braz's work, says that Lower Brittany is before all else the Land of the Dead. "Souls do not remain enclosed in the tombs, they wander at night on the high-roads and in the lonely lanes.