Four years ago I started this blog without any plan. I had just read a book, Luminous debris: reflecting on vestige in Provence and Languedoc,
… in which the expatriate American Gustaf Sobin sifts the remnants of the past for the “mirroring images they might provide” to the present.
. . . Interpreting vestige with the eloquence of a poet and the knowledge of a field archaeologist, and drawing on prehistory, protohistory, and Gallo-Roman antiquity, the twenty-six essays in this book focus on a particular place or artifact for the relevance inherent in each.
It was an inspiration, and it led to me being told of a forgotten and unmarked dolmen in the hills above our village. It puzzled me then that no care or attention (or respect) was being paid to these earliest burial places. (It puzzles me still).
I became concerned that these sites would disappear from our communal knowledge, as the old folk who knew their location passed away, and the invading garrigue hid them from view.
Puzzlement > concern > plan : I would locate all the dolmens and menhirs in our region. Visit them, photograph them and provide a basic description. And more important than anything else – locate them with GPS co-ordinates. So that – for as long as the satelites fly in the sky – others will be able to walk to them. To pay respect, and in return receive understanding or insight or simply – connection.
The plan has all the outward signs of being scientific and intellectual, but the aim encompasses our greater needs : the contemplation of death and ruin. In our forward rush towards ‘ever-more’ and progress, loss and death and disappearance are banished from view.
Here are two dolmens that have been ‘saved’ from this process. Friend and co-researcher Joel Bouakaz found them. They have never been written about, never marked on a map, never entered the archaeological record.
Side by side, on a windswept slope above Roquefère, these tombs have gone unremarked – in written records – for millennia, until an amateur enthusiast formally located them.
Above: the larger, western tomb. It is a work of art (if art is love, respect, wonder, and skill). Below: the smaller tomb, just 20 paces to the east.
These two dolmens (or Chasséen cistes, or sub-mégalithique tombes à dalles, or whatever) lie buried on a hillside just a kilometer due west of the well-known Ventajous dolmen. On the very next hill – just across the valley. What does this tell us about the current interest in our local prehistory?
More information on these, on the Miraval dolmens Page, left. And as usual: all coordinates & information will be published & presented to SESA in Carcassonne in 2012.