There are bound to be some elements of mystery and confusion whenever we try to penetrate ‘the mists of time’. But to add ignorance and stupidity is unforgiveable. When attempting to give the correct name to this dolmen, I should have done more research – and I should have looked more clearly at the dolmen itself.
With the kindly help of the librarian at the Societé d’Études Scientifiques de l’Aude [S.E.S.A.] I was able to dispel part of the cloud of ignorance that had settled on me over its name. In the S.E.S.A. Bulletin for 1955 I found an account of the digs made by some members. In Les Dolmens de la Roueyre, Bize-Minervois [Bull. LV] the authors make it clear that the dolmen we visited is la Mère de Dieu or Roc Gris dolmen.
Further research into the feudal law-terms of Southern France revealed that the word ‘tènement’ was the Provençal or Occitan term for a 15 or 30 year land tenure. It then occurred to me that it was Monsieur Jean Miquel de Barroubio who had discovered and named the dolmen in 1896, and that he had known that part of the valley by its ancient name. The land-registry that one can search at any Marie, and on line, will date from post-mediaeval times or at least from the revolution – and thus was unlikely to show a ‘ tènement de la Mère de Dieu ‘ (although some very old place-names do persist on maps). There can be few people alive, or none, who know the place by this name. It is an extraordinary name – but its origins seem likely to remain in the mists.
Its other name, le Roc Gris, is more prosaic. Indeed, so obvious that I managed to overlook it. It was the elephant in the tomb . . .
This is the one photo I did not include – because I thought the huge grey rock forming part of the left side support . . . detracted from the ‘look’ of the dolmen. By now it must be obvious to all, how stupid I was.
I have changed the name in the Page column, which now reads : Mère de Dieu, or Roc Gris dolmen. The Pierre des Couteaux dolmen remains close by, but still ‘lost’.