Saturday, 16 July 2016


We discovered on the Atlantic stretch of beach leading to the lighthouse (Phare) of Chassiron on the northernmost tip of the Île d’Oléron thousands of stone piles (cáirn).  It was a really arresting and surprising composition, like a landscape from the imagination of Anton Gaudí.  The collected and arranged stones were obliviously bleached and hewn by the sea, pock-marked and made me think of the received folk-belief of the Hühnergotten (equivalent to the Celtic idea of the Adders’ Stone) that a rock with a naturally (or preternaturally) bored hole is a lucky charm—presumably because it can be strung through easily and worn as an amulet.  Not all of these stones could have been eroded by time and tide to specifications like this one I spied but left on the beach to achieve a perfect poultry-form (I realise that hühn has nothing to do with chicken but it is an association that gets reinforced like Sparkasse as Cheese Bank) as I think that would have been too magical.  I knew, however, that each stone was tending in that direction at least as we stacked and balanced ours along the beach as well before proceeding to the lighthouse and latter day ensemble at the promontory.