Site: Saint-Michel-en-Grève

Name:Saint-Michel-en-Grève (Lokmikael-an-traezh) CISP No:SMGRV
Place:Saint-Michel-en-Grève (Lokmikael-an-traezh) Grid Ref:165.5 2425.8 (FR)   Map
Parish:Saint-Michel-en-Grève (Lokmikael-an-traezh) Stones:1
County:Côtes-d'Armor (Aodou-an-Arvor) , France Saint(s):Michael
Site Type:modern secondary

Site Notes

Davies et al/2000, 159--60, `Saint-Michel-en-Grève occupies a dramatic position, lying right on the coast on the eastern side of the huge bay of Lannion, in the west of Côtes-d'Armor, just above sea level, on the main Morlaix to Lannion road. The underlying bedrock is metamorphic and is immediately beside the granite.

The modern road (D786) descends the hill from the north east to the bourg and turns sharply south to hug the edge of the bay. It then runs south west along the sea-wall to Saint-Efflam before climbing back up to Plestin-les-Grèves and on to Morlaix to the west. This route, however, was only opened in recent centuries and formerly travellers had to wait for low tide to cross the sands of the lieue de grève ('the league-wide strand'), a distance of over 4km. Although the rivers Yar and Roscoat today flow straight into the sea to the south of Saint-Michel, in the past their egress was blocked by a massive sand-bank; they were forced north before finally flowing out to sea, along with the Kerdu stream, under Beg-ar-Forn, a point on the coast to the north of the bourg of Saint-Michel. In 1834 large-scale removals of sand began, causing changes in water flow, but until then travellers were obliged to cross a ford just west of the church of Saint-Michel on to the strand. Tales of tragic drownings are told in the locality and the dangers of the location are made evident by the fact that the churchyard wall could be destroyed by storms, as it was in the 1860s.

Saint-Michel is also situated at the point where the old Roman road from Le Yaudet to Morlaix (which lies to the north and west of the modern road) crossed, via the ford, on to the tidal strand. Storms have periodically revealed 1st- to 3rd-century structures, pottery debris, and coins at this point. The present church was built in the late 15th century but its north aisle incorporates some earlier material.

In the early 19th century (1813) the settlement of Saint-Michel-en-Grève was small and its core, the bourg, lay to the north of the church; the main road ran through the bourg, on the line of the former Roman road (ADCd'A 3P Plans Carton 23). However, the settlement itself was split between the parishes of Saint-Michel and of Trédrez to the north, along the line of the Kerdu stream. The church and its yard lay in Saint-Michel, on the western side of the main road, and were not focal to the settlement'.