Archive for June 2008

La Pierre Replantée   Leave a comment

Without Quid I would never have found many of these places here in my region. Every village – and France is essentially a network of villages – has a dossier listing its vital statistics and attributes. La Mairie collects the data and sends it to Paris, whence it is diffused back to the Nation. Decade upon decade – possibly since Napoleon began pulling France into a coherent unity – facts accrete. Nothing is altered or thrown away: it is all on file. Real life, however, tends to subvert the system: place-names change through metathesis [a sound change that alters the order of phonemes in a word] or the persistence or resurgence of regional dialect. Cartographers register some changes – and ignore others. Things do get lost. Farmers alter the landscape, burying or unearthing the past. Road-builders bulldoze the past into a ditch. Which is where I found this massive standing stone yesterday.

pierre plantee olonzac

For more info and photos – go to La Pierre Plantée Olonzac Page.

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Semi-detached oppidum at le Carla, Durban Corbieres   10 comments

Quid.fr is France’s Encyclopedia Britannica – and has this to say about the canton of Durban Corbières:

Vestiges Préhistoriques : 1 – Oppidum de Carla. 2 – Habitation Gallo-Romain au Roc de Carla

. . . and that is the sum-total of information that I can find on the site. I came across this meagre thread while researching the dolmen de Palats which lies 2 km. north. We drove past le Roc a few days ago :-

oppidum roc de carla

– and the only words for it are impregnable and inhospitable. With uninhabitable running a close third. The first two are desirable in a defensive stronghold – but its location is not obvious. As far as I am aware this oppidum is a lone outpost, far from the linked chain of defensive hill-settlements that runs east-west along the Aude river valley to command the long-established trade-route [that became the Via Aquitania and now the Autoroute des Deux Mers]. It has intermittent streams at the base of the rock [Carla is a version of Cayla, or Caylar – occitan for caillou, or pebble – a diminuitively affectionate term for these jagged outcrops that were favoured sites throughout the region]. But the main river that runs through this fairly barren part of the Corbières is La Berre, and that passes well to the south, through Durban – with its mediaeval castle high on a rock.

It is also possible that this was one of the more northern oppida belonging to the ibero-celtic tribes who built the oppidum de Ruscino [at Perpignan] later to become the ‘capitol’ of the Roussillon region.

Had I been alone I would probably have spent a painfully futile afternoon up there, hoping for a photograph of a crumbled wall or two – but I had wiser counsel beside me. So we drove on to the dolmen. This now joins the lengthening list of sites that require some local knowledge – and a set of crampons.

Co-ordinates for the oppidum will be available from S.E.S.A. at Carcassonne – or from me.

A dolmen with no history   Leave a comment

The Dolmen de Palats is deep in the Corbières, that wild and rumpled area of hills 50 miles wide and 50 deep which begins just south of our village and extends to the foothills of the Pyrenees. It was not high on my list of Old Stones, being just two slabs leaning against eachother – as photographed by Bruno Marc in his excellent guide to the Dolmens and Menhirs of Languedoc-Roussillon. However, the visit was well worth the alarmingly pricey diesel and the precipitously twisty backroads.

dolmen de palats south side

Continue reading on the Dolmen de Palats Page.