Coupiat dolmen (Mayranne I)   Leave a comment

The two dolmens of Mayranne (or four according to Monsieur Bousquet, instituteur archéologique d’Olonzac, who first reported these megalithic tombs in the mid-1800’s) have always been rather marginalised. The big show was always over the western causses de Minerve: the dolmen groups of Les Lacs and Le Bouys; and the nécropole de Bois-Bas. There seems to be only one report ever published: ‘Deux mégalithes du Causse de Minerve’. Jacques Lauriol. Cahiers Ligures. 1961

[above: view east from the ‘chevet‘ or headstone.]

Cazalis de Fondouce, an early gentleman-archaeologist, came looking for them in 1880. In 1930 Jean Miquel de Barroubio – indefatigable emptier of prehistoric tombs – declared that he too had found four dolmens: one, between La Courounelle and Montredon ‘sur les bordis du ruisseau de Gourc‘ was ‘ruiné‘. The other ‘ un peu plus loin‘ was still intact at that time. He doesn’t elucidate upon the the other two – nor does he in any of his reports give any precise locations. [Lauriol is not the first archaeologist to criticise Miquel’s hoarding of information, and artefacts.)

Lauriol’s  team, despite extensive searches, could only find two dolmens. He names them simply Mayranne 1 and 2. This is the only written research on either of them – and has therefore become ‘definitive’. I propose a more ‘toponymicly precise’ variation.

The ‘causse’ that this ‘dolmen simple’ was built upon is in only the widest sense ‘Le causse de Mayranne’ – because more precisely it is distinguished from that larger and more northerly expanse by the name ‘causse de Coupiat’. This gets its name from ‘le rec’ or ‘le ruisseau de Coupiat’ to the east.

[view east close-up.]
Lauriol’s dig here produced nothing. He variously describes it as ‘une lamentable ruine‘ and ‘très anciennement fouillé et détruit‘. In a curious phrase he states that “nous nous sommes toujours abstenu de pratiquer des fouilles ou de relever l’architecture des nombreux dolmens du causse Mégé.” Thus he is unable to compare these two with all the others to the west of Minerve. Was he shut out of the other digs by fellow archaeologists, or had the commune of Minerve itself shut the door temporarily to any further ‘scavenging’ archaeologists?

{view from western foot end.]

Lauriol’s report does not mention its orientation – it faces almost due east. The ‘almost’ could be explained by magnetic declination over time. From my limited understanding, this is consistent for an ‘early’ or neolithic ‘dolmen simple‘. Jean Guilaine and others have agreed that in our region over the period when megalithic tombs were built, their orientations move from E-W to S-W and back through S. This a grossly simplified summary of a much-studied and complex situation. Michael Hoskins exhaustive study of dolmens: Tombs, Temples and their Orientations. A New Perspective on Mediterranean Prehistory. 2001 – does not mention either of these two.

And since Lauriol did not note its orientation, his measurements of the orthostats are difficult to ‘read’. Above is his ‘pilier A‘ – 60 cm. above ground, 1.8 m. long. It is in fact the southern orthostat. The northern (pilier B) is 60 cm. x 1.25 m.

[view from foot or west end]

Below is the video (posted Dec.13)

The GPS coordinates will be published and made available at SESA Carcassonne, or from me

Posted December 13, 2010 by Richard Williams

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