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The story of the Pierre-Levée

Often associated to local stories and legends, the figure of saint Radegund is once again invoked to explain the origins of a famous limestone megalith in the Pont-Neuf suburb, near the Dunes cliffs. Probably dating from the Neolithic, the dolmen collapsed during the 18th century : the table broke into two parts, one now lying on the ground and the other propped up on two remaining pillars.

The legend attributes the construction to saint Radegund. She would have taken the giant stone from the near surroundings of Poitiers (Migné or Saint-Benoît), and would have carried it on her head all the way -a popular tradition even said the imprint of her head in the stone could still be seen by passing underneath. The pillars would have been carried in Radegund's apron -a detail of the story which tightly coincides with legends about the fairy Mélusine, herself another legendary builder of odd structures. She is said to have carried construction materials in her “dorne” (apron or dress).

The dolmen is associated to many ancestral rituals and traditions : fairs were held around it in the Middle Ages; the worship of saint Radegund is still practised here in the 19th century; students from the university seem to have chosen the spot for merry outdoor banqueting as early as the 16th century. Rabelais -who on the occasion attributes the origin of the stone to his own character of Pantagruel- claims the stone is used for a ritual where the  “escholiers” (scholars) must climb upon it to be recognised as such. He also says that young people had the habit of engraving their name on the limestone table with a knife. The curious visitor of today may have some trouble in finding any trace of these past rituals, since they seem to have existed only in the author's fertile imagination!