Tuesday, 30 August 2011

The Dance with Death

The thing about the The Rough Guide to Brittany & Normandyis that, rather like that very serious range of travel books the  'Blue Guides,  it dwells heavily on ecclesiastical and archeological sites in the Breton department.  Great if you enjoy wandering around old churches and their environs but not so useful if your preference are for less highbrow attractions.

Happily, we've found small boys love a French church especially if they contain a few gruesome body parts in caskets.  The chapel at Kermaria an Isquit does not disappoint on this count.  Not only is there the skull of an old Lord of the Manor but as an added bonus, two silvery caskets contain the hearts of his chummers.  However, unlike the uncryptically named church of St John the Finger(!), anatomical bits and bobs are not the main attraction.  Many visitors find their way here to see the danse macabre.

This fresco, painted in the 15th or 16th century was covered over for many years only to be discovered again four hundred or so years later.  It depicts people of all ages and social standing each holding hands with death, or Ankur as he's known in Brittany.  It's a reminder that all beings are mortal whoever they are.

And there's more here that makes this place well worth visiting.  The wooden statues in the porch are exquisite and there are many other treasures inside the building to discover too.  And this trap door?  Well, it's the entrance to a tunnel that allegedly leads to a manor house about 4km away.  Although we assumed it was out of bounds a recent online article  contradicts this.  So, we may be back at sometime soon as the rather disappointed Lovelygrey boys are keen to experience that claustrophobia that might only be felt when confined in a dank, dark medieval hole!

1 comment:

  1. Wow, intriguing! I love the Danse Macabre 'soundtrack' too!