James Miln de Woodhill (1819-1881), a Scottish gentleman who was passionate about ancient history, heard about the worldwide reputation of the megaliths and moved to Carnac. From 1873 until his death, he constantly organized archaeological digs, around the stone alignments at Kermario, at the foot of the Saint Michel Tumulus and at a dozen of smaller megaliths across the region (low mounds and dolmens). Chance encounters finally lead him to turn his attention to Medieval Times and Antiquity. However, as early as 1875 there was a rudimentary display of the artefacts found during the digs at Carnac, firstly in De Miln’s own room at the Hôtel Des Voyageurs and eventually in a room at the Carnac Town Hall.
The Miln Museum was founded by James’ brother Robert Miln. The latter had a special building erected, at his own expense, to house his brother’s collections and donated the building and its contents to the town of Carnac.
Zacharie Le Rouzic (1864-1939), curator of the Miln Museum, conceded his entire collection of artefacts to the town of Carnac. Nominated correspondent for the Commission of Historical Monuments for Morbihan county, he proceeded to have 123 monuments listed. He undertook digs and the restoration of 129 sites across the territory in particular on the Rhuys and Quiberon peninsulas. Back at Carnac, he set up major digs at the Saint Michel Tumulus, on the Kermario Stones (Manio 2 Mound), on the long tumulus which crosses the Kerlescan megalith site and the Lizo camp.
Further to Zacharie le Rouzic’s request, the entire collection of the museum was listed in the National Historical Monuments register.
During the Second World War, Carnac was in Zone Interdite (The Forbidden Zone) during the German occupation of France. A hundred or so artefacts were taken into safe-keeping to be protected from the air-raids and transferred to Maine and Loire county.
1946 - 1958
As part of a project with the Institute of Brittany Prehistory in Carnac the Museum was transferred to the University of Rennes (Geology Institute). This did not turn out to be beneficial and finally the museum was given back to the town of Carnac.
The new James Miln - Zacharie Le Rouzic Prehistory Museum was opened. Inaugurated in 1985 by Jack Lang, the then Minister of Culture, the museum was henceforth set up in the old presbytery built in the nineteenth century.