Nous sommes en plein cagnard. It’s scorching now from 10 to 6 – so any excursions on days off must happen at dawn or not at all. I don’t need an alarm in the summer here – most days start around sunrise. So it’s off at first light across the valley to the pretty little hameau de Fauzan in search of the second dolmen de Fournes that eluded my Jessi and me the first time, and me a few weeks ago.
Like most men, I’m reluctant to ask directions – seeing it as a defeat of my navigational prowess. But I have also discovered that good fortune comes from talking to people out on the hillside – and so it was that my daughter and I found ourselves being conducted to Fournes dolmen No. 2 by a cheery vigneron, after a fruitless afternoon thrashing through the garrigue. She was back in France again – but fast asleep – when I set out to recover some of my honour by finding No. 1, tout seul.
Paul Ambert’s 1970’s report on the two Fournes dolmens states confidently that ‘on peut facilement les trouver’. Well, it’s always easy when you know how – but more difficult when the only two references to them contradict eachother. Ambert gives a fairly precise description of No. 1’s location – while managing to mix up the latitudes & longitudes – as 500 m. to the east of Fournes. Michel Barbaza’s 1979 ‘Inventaire de l’Aude Préhistorique’ echoes this, but puts No.2 at 100 m. to the south-west, when it is in fact 750 m. to the south-east. But the confusion was compounded by the hand-drawn sketch-map, possibly borrowed from a 1946 dig by le Docteur Arnal :
This looked so useful at the outset – but in fact led to hours of vain searches : the lower dolmen (No. 2) was nowhere near this position, and nowhere near a track. Another description of the southern dolmen as having been a shelter for children on the way to school must have been a garbled mis-literation of some local story : it’s several hundred metres from the track between the two hamlets. The conflicting locations, the confused story and the inaccurate map all succeeded in scrambling my understanding of where these two dolmens were in relation to eachother – or to anything else.
The description above – ces deux ruines – coupled with the humble-looking sketch-plan, left me feeling that maybe there wasn’t much remaining of tomb No. 1, and that I would probably never find it in the invasive garrigue:
In fact, it turned out to be quite sizeable and solid – once the undergrowth was cleared back:
It really was buried in the thickest of thickets – and I’d be amazed if more than one or two people know of its existence, or its location. What a shame that it has been so long ignored : its position is dramatic and the uneroded stones are massive and have great presence.
More photos & info & video on the Fournes dolmen 1 Page >