what’s in a name?   2 comments

The dolmen de Combe Lignières (or du Ruisseau de Thais) . . . . or was it Calamiac?

This is how you find out about your village, your commune : you open your big book called Quid. It’s the Encyclopaedia Britannica of France, which had to stop printing and go online when faced with the Internets. In March 2010 it disappeared . . . no explanation, no news item, no trace. Very weird – or just very French (you know, customer relations never a strong point . . . )

Fortunately, I copied/pasted/saved exactly what Quid had researched on La Livinière :

# Dolmens de Combe-Marie, Calamiac, Combe-Violon, Combegrosse, Les Meulières, Fonsorgues, Pierre Rousse, Caussérel, Saussenac, Castel Bouqui.
# Alignement mégalithique à Saussenac.
# Habitat chalcolithique au nord-est de La Livinière.
# Traces de village néolithique à Parignoles.

When I said that information about megalithic sites is fast being lost, I didn’t for a moment imagine that France’s main repository of historical and cultural data would disappear. This was the first place to visit when I began my researches a few years ago: presumably every village, every commune had been asked for its history (culled from local knowledge, regional historians and archaeologists). If I had started looking for dolmens this spring, I would have faced a blank wall. With no Quid, there was no way I would have begun to dig deeper – because I wouldn’t have known there was a deeper in which to dig.

But as you can see from the list, there’s a lot of digging to do (for which I use my head, not a spade . . . ).

There are dolmens up there on Quid’s list that have no other existence, other than being on Quid’s list. There are no traces – online or in libraries – of any dolmen at Combegrosse, or Fonsorgues or Pierre Rousse. These places don’t even appear on the map. Somewhere I came across a whisper of a rumour of a menhir at Pierre Rousse. It’s probably a rock. And red. There’s every possibility that the fantastical jumble of stones up at Les Meulières caused some Victorian enthusiast to stake his claim to a dolmen, and ditto at Castel Bouqui – but then they are  probably one and the same heap of stones.

The dolmen at Causserel is more than likely Le Grand Dolmen de Lauriol. Nothing whatsoever has been written about Causserel, while Lauriol has been well-researched. Combegrosse does not appear anywhere on the radar, and one might think the local enthusiast responsible for this inclusion actually meant the ‘grande combe’ which is Combe Lignières. Which brings us to the dolmen of Calamiac (cited by the Captain at Megalithic Portal) – and the odd fact that the dolmen of Combe Lignières is not on the list at all . . . (Combe Lignières is close to the hamlet of Calamiac). Then there’s supposed to be both dolmen and stone-alignment at Saussenac – only there isn’t. Unless by Saussenac, they mean Combe Lignières – because they too are close.

Do you begin to see the problem? Quid used to be the Bible of All Things France – but in reality you can’t trust all of it – and yet it was the only ‘point de départ’ available. And now it’s gone. And Nobody Has Mentioned It. What is it with France and information and the internet?

Try this : ask Google for Quid – seven pages in and you’re still no nearer the biggest encyclopaedia about France and the World.

So try this : ask Google for Quid.fr – around page 5 you’ll read that it is ‘le portail de la connaissance universelle et francophone accessible à tous, avec 100% d’informations utiles et fiables’ with  ‘1000000 de visiteurs par mois (source DART)’ but by page 12 there is still no acknowlegement that Quid is temporarily dead.

So try this : ‘quid.fr disparu’ : nope nothing there either, after 5 pages. Or ‘quid.fr pas accessible’? No – that gets you nowhere either. So one million visitors per month have a) not noticed or b) not noted online, that their world encyclopaedia has disappeared.

Now try this : ask Google for ‘dolmens’. Just type those 6 letters in, and what do you get? Result No 1 is Wikipedia, naturally –  and then rather surprisingly, at No 3 – this site. More surprising yet  is that if you switch to Images, there on page 1 you get our daughter Jessica, at a dolmen, on this site.

Dolmens and girls – it seems you internautes have made your choices, for whatever reasons.


2 responses to “what’s in a name?

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  1. I took you up on your google search demand and for dolmans I get only the wikapedia listing, after that it refers to dolman as a family name, furniture and clothing. not very popular here. Menheir turned up more links, one to Ancient Wisdom site, one to dolmens&Menhirs du Languedoc,which took me to the Cevennes National Park. Didn’t see your site listed or your picture in images. I’m getting hooked on this adventure of yours Richard, especially looking forward to seeing the handmade maps the old man passed on to you. Keep on young man!

    • Hi Diane
      Did you type ‘dolmans’ or ‘dolmens’?
      Young man indeed! It’s my 60th birthday bash this friday – let’s hope I make it . . .

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