Meneham Village on the coast of Legends in Brittany
Meneham Village on the coast of Legends in Brittany
Along the coastal road of north finistere, in Brittany, France, I arrived at Meneham village, of town of Kerlouan. Tucked into the rocks of the coast of legends, Meneham expected to resume life.
The village of Meneham, ancient village of peasant-sinners-seaweed is hidden behind a huge block of granite where the guard is hidden (this small house which is a customs Breton postcard cliche !!). Built to monitor the coast, guardhouse, only building facing the sea, is the first building in the hamlet of Meneham.
Uncertainty remains on its date of construction, which is to date unknown. Long attributed to Vauban (1633-1707), several elements suggest that it was built around 1756, is about fifty years after the death of the famous architect. The Duke of Aiguillon, then commander in chief of the Province of Britain from 1753 to 1768, in fact, ordered the construction of many guardhouse on the Breton coast. There likely than in Meneham was part.
Originally, the guard houses militiamen recruited from the parish of Kerlouan and customs from 1792. First housed in the village of Théven, near Meneham, customs arrive in the barracks, built in the early 1840. They stay with their families until 1860.
Around 1840, the first houses, called “report” are built. Small, thatched with few openings, these houses were rented to farming families. Gradually, in the late nineteenth century, the village is growing: the small houses are “doubled” to welcome new homes.
Living conditions remain difficult in the village. The proximity of the sea, the soil and harsh winter storms, do not facilitate the lives of its inhabitants, a life punctuated by the work of the ground: preparation and amendment, planting, maintenance, harvesting. This activity is not to provide for, people naturally turn to the coastal fishing and harvesting of seaweed. Fishery products, mainly crustaceans, were resold to wholesalers. As for harvesting seaweed, it required more work and arm. All family members took part in the collection of different varieties, drying, stockpiling and burning to obtain soda bread, then brought in Plouescat treatment plant.
Meneham life was not easy but was punctuated by moments of celebrations, especially during the famous Pagan festivals. The closure of the cottage in 1977 will mark the end of that time. Gradually, the village is empty and crumbling buildings.
The coast of Legends … Maybe those wreckers, because here the coast is dangerous, life was rough, wild; it is the space of a rough and harsh daily where the wind eventually carve faces in the sickle.
These farmers fishermen, very poor, did disappear within hours cargo ships stranded on the breakers of the wild coast. To do this, it is said that the Pagans tied torches to the horns of bulls lame to imitate their swaying lights to guide ships to the ports. It is also said that they illuminated the churches and chapels of the cliffs to attract the vessels …
Shipwrecks and plunderers of wrecks:
Legend has it that the Breton living along the coast caused the ship sinking in order to plunder. Behind the myth hides a reality: the breaking of law was not only a fact particularly rooted social but also an essential element for particularly poor residential areas of the economy.
There are, in maritime law, a rule called the “right to break” or right lagan (“thought” to Ouessant Island Brittany). In case of shipwreck, all belong to the Lord debris owner odds that such debris stranded – and, indeed, France, breakage are now believed to belong to the State …
All participate, without exception, be they farmers, artisans and traders, young, old, women and children, including priests and bourgeois notables or of the corner … The goal is simple: to recover as possible before goods the stately authority or the Admiralty, reaches to the site. Everything happening there: the personal effects of the crew, sometimes torn from the bodies of survivors (jewelery …), shipments of clothing, food, precious metals, of course, furniture cabins and all possible wood (rare commodity on Ouessant, for example). Regarding alcohol, the method was different casks and barrels were immediately set drills and shared between all the raiders wreck. These groups turned regularly or almost always in huge drinking party! More than one document reports that villagers died from drinking too much water spirits at once …
Therefore particularly agitated scenes, interspersed with shouts, fights, invective, songs and laughter … For those who kept the ideas clear enough to proceed to plunder each element was recovered and set aside in a heap. Place a pebble on a amoncèlement objects sufficient to indicate that they belonged to someone who would look for later … This code was particularly respected: the other inhabitants of the coast would not have ventured to remove the roller pile of his neighbor to appropriate its objects – this flight was severely punished by the village community.
Rehabilitation with identical:
Meneham village, restored by the “Buildings of France” identical to the 1950s that today leaves room lodge, an inn (restaurant / bar), workshops of artists / craftsmen, museum spaces and an information point (the house site).
The village is a completely open site, with free access all year and every day.
All seasons are suitable for a walk in the village. Winter storms offer spectacular scenery and the sun’s rays in summer invites you to stroll. An ideal site for photographers !
Hamlet Meneham (or Menez ham)
GPS: 48.6671 latitude, longitude -4.37214
There is a car park.
by GR 34 along the coast:
On IGN maps, the village is indicated Menez ham.