La Matte dolmen, Félines-Minervois   3 comments

This is – or was – the most westerly of the 10 dolmens that Germain Sicard visited in July 1891 ‘en compagnie d’un de nos plus sympathiques collègues, M. le capitaine Savin’ . At that time it was intact, capstone in place.

His description puts it ‘near’ the buildings of the farm he calls La Matte. His map locates it to the south of them, where he calls it La Matto. The etymology of the name is unclear: it could be a corruption of ‘mazot‘ – a diminuative of ‘mas‘, a farm. Or it could derive from ‘mato‘ – a braid (of hair), or equally ‘mato‘ – a bunch or tuft or clump (of trees). [Dictionnaire Languedocienne. Abbé de Sauvages. 1755]

La Matte has been renovated, and is now a private holiday property. But it is unfenced and unmarked and more importantly, rarely inhabited – so I have no scruples about visiting. I make a point of going directly to the main house and calling out a greeting. I hope one day to meet the owner for I have many questions about the history of the place.

What is apparent from both looking at the terrain on Google Earth and from walking around, is that extensive re-aforrestation has taken place across the slopes south of the farm. The huge machines that ‘plough’ these rocky hills turn up so many slabs that could each be major parts of a dolmen.

But there is one large pile of stones that contains one small last vestige: a deeply-buried broken upright about 50 cms. high, with some neighbouring stones that look connected. The orientation of this broken stump is 230° – the same as the majority of the other small dolmens I visited this day.

In the photo above you will have to search for the little orthostat to the left.  It is a single solitary stone that might bear witness to the emplacement of a megalithic tomb.  At this stage of destruction, where forresters and builders have driven their tractors through the prehistoric landscape, and ripped up most of the traces of the ancient past – I am left with guesswork. A complete tomb existed here, not so many years ago – now it has been destroyed.

Posted February 10, 2011 by Richard Williams

3 responses to “La Matte dolmen, Félines-Minervois

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  1. Hello,
    can you say to me what is the name of the book in which you found this map ?

  2. Thank you Richard for your fast answer

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