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The menhirs of Acq near Arras

The menhirs of Acq, also called “twin stones”, “stones of Acq”, “young ladies of Acq” or “stones of the devil”, are located on the territory of Ecoivres, near the Mont-Saint-Eloi abbey, on the edge of a field. They are, in fact, two giant rocks made of sandstone dating back from 4000 to 3000 BC. The taller one is 3.3 metres tall and weighs eight tons. They are classified as Historical Monuments.

Menhirs of Acq

Regarding their origin, there are two versions of the legend:

The first version narrates that a farmer had made a bet with the devil. If the devil could build a beautiful farmhouse within one night, the farmer would have to give up his soul to the devil. Satan started the work at nightfall. However, the farmer’s wife was very crafty and woke the cock up before the daybreak. The bird started singing right away. Furious on having lost the bet, Satan threw the two stones that he was holding in a nearby field near the road called “Brunehaut roadway”.

The second version narrates that the queen Brunehaut, who was at war against her brother-in-law Chilpéric, wanted to accelerate the renovation of the roadway in order to make it more accessible to her troops. To make it possible, she called on the devil, to whom she promised her soul in exchange for his services, provided that the work was over before the song of the cock. Satan started working right away. The queen, who had never intended to give up her soul to the devil, went to the henhouse and woke the cocks up before the sunrise. They started singing immediately, thus making the devil lose. Furious and offended, the devil threw with rage the two big stones he was holding in a nearby field.

Here’s some interesting history for you: After Clotaire (son of Clovis, king of the Franks) died in 561, endless fights between his two last sons, Sigebert and Chilpéric, gave birth to a civil war within the Frank kingdom. Sigebert married the queen Brunehaut, a beautiful and intelligent but authoritative woman. Jealous of the power given to his brother through this marriage, Chilpéric decided to marry the elder sister of Brunehaut, Galswinthe. But Chilpéric rapidly became tired of his wife and organized her assassination. His wife was strangled in her bed around 570. Chilpéric then hastened to marry his long-standing mistress and maid Frédégonde. Subsequently an all-consuming hatred broke out between the two families, which turned into a civil war that lasted for nearly 50 years.

Sigebert was stabbed by two emissaries sent by Frédégonde. It was her who handed over two kitchen knives, with blades coated with poison, to the murderers. She also organized the assassination of all the children that her husband Chilpéric had had with other women in order to keep the throne for her son Clotaire. In the meantime, Frédégonde turned out to be an unfaithful wife and asked her lover to kill Chilpéric after he came to know about her extra-marital affairs. Frédégonde died in 597.

As for the queen Brunehaut, she had a sad fate a few years later. Around the age of 80, she was betrayed by her people while she was trying to run away. She was arrested and handed over to her adversary Clotaire (son of Frédégonde) who tortured her for three days. Clotaire then drove her naked on a camel and the queen was humiliated by Clotaire’s soldiers and the crowd. Finally, she was tied up to the tail of a wild horse by her hair, an arm and a foot, and was torn to pieces after the horse ran crazily. The queen died in atrocious suffering. Clotaire also ensured that all her grand-children were assassinated.

Mont-Saint-Eloi from Menhirs of Acq

View of the Mont-Saint-Eloi abbey from the menhirs of Acq.

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