High on a sloping hillside in the Commune of Carnoet, in Brittany in northwestern France, a large scale project is underway, one that hopes to cover the entire hillside with a thousand granite statues representing the Saints of Brittany. More than 7,000 Saints are venerated all over Brittany, although only a few are officially recognized by the Roman Catholic Church.
Some of them have left their marks on the region while others stayed for less than a month as they passed through Brittany. Through the effigies of these Saints, the project aims to celebrate and raise awareness of Brittany’s inter-celtic history, as well as reflect on the importance of granite in the Bretton landscape and local economy.
Started in 2008, the project has so far seen over sixty 3-meter-tall statues erected on the site donated by the municipality, which has acquired the misleading name “the Valley of the Saints”, despite the site being a hill.
Each statue on The Valley of the Saints is of a Saint linked with local legends which in turn are a blend of Celtic, Gallo-Roman and Christian culture. Thanks to the variety of artists involved in the project, each statue is unique in appearance.
The project was initiated by Breton philosopher Philippe Abjean, and is funded entirely through donations by local communities and organizations. Anybody can sponsor a statue, select their own patron saint and choose its location on the hillside. Each statue costs 12,000 euros to build. Ironically, given the purpose of the project, most of the statues erected so far were carved from imported Chinese granite.