These days France is enjoying two of its favourite pastimes – after food and wine – le rugby and la politique. This weekend at the little bergerie in the wilds, there was going to be a good deal of both – with three major matches, and the looming local elections. Our friends were in the thick of it – but there was just time enough for Ivan to recall the location of a menhir, not ten minutes walk from the house.
It’s on a scruffy non-descript hillock that runs down to the magnificent gorge du Sou – that’s the little river that runs through Sarah’s land – or the gorge du Caune Pont, as the IGN map has it.
Ivan was born in Termes, a pretty Cathar village sacked by Simon de Montfort in 13th. C. and has always known about the stone – but not if it had ever been upright. The garrigue is sparse on this hill-without-a-name, but still it took a while to find it. Time enough to see that it was the only rock on the entire ridge – though there were sufficient limestone slabs below in the gorge to fill Brittany. It is 2 m. long and 1m. wide, and stands knee-high. Its orientation is 320 NW/SE pretty much facing the gorge and Roc de Fenne Prenz. [See Page on La Fenne Prenz] And while this may be purely subjective – the shape is very symmetrical and . . . well . . . shapely. I can’t think of a big stone more like a flint spear-head than this.
In a landscape of stone like the Corbieres Hills, or the upland ‘causses’ of the Minervois there are a number of sites, half-remembered/half-lost – or grottes missing their corresponding dolmen, and dolmen standing whose grottes have got buried in garrigue. It’s been an idea for a while now – that a group of keen people might come and stay – and explore some of these possible vestiges.
Returning to this one: it is not marked or named, and it’s not standing up. So is it a menhir? I have posted it as a fallen one, on the Megalithic Portal site – and named it after the nearest thing: Moulintour. Its coordinates, using the excellent French GeoPortail site, are: 2.34’26” E, 42.59’07” N. Or in decimal degrees: 2.573888, 42.985277
With Ireland, Wales and England winning, and his political campaign faltering, it was not the best of weekends for Ivan. Fortunately Sarah roasted a huge leg of lamb and there was lots of wine.