In an unusual cluster, menhirs occur all around this north-west corner of the Aude département: the five-metre one at Malves, the four-metre one at Picarel – and this little one-metre-high stone at Guitard.
Germain Sicard describes it thus: ‘un très modeste, mais très reconnaissable menhir, ignoré de la plupart des gens du pays’.
It would seem to have nothing in common with the grand menhirs nearby. It is just, briefly, visible from the road that leads from Alzonne to Montolieu, on a little jutting promontary.
Sicard’s directions are flawed – ‘à trente mètres environ de la route d’Alzonné à Montolieu et au nord de cette voie et à trois mètres après avoir dépassé la métairie de Guittard . . . ‘ I presume, now, that his ‘three metres’ was a typo – and that he meant 300 metres. On the day it meant that we tramped up and down a field so close to the farm that it set the dogs to howling.
The dogs were chained, but I remained in the car ’til the owner emerged. He – by one of these transformations that seem to occur whenever megaliths are mentioned – turned out to be extremely aimiable. Dishevelled and possibly drunk – but most helpful.
Few people seem to have visited this stone: the Megalithic Portal online notes its existence but not its exact location. It does say this however: ‘It is a symbol of fertility and life, and to this day is a meeting point for lovers.’ Where this information comes from is not clear – but the location of the stone (at a fine view-point, with a large scrubby parking-area) would seem to support his case for a romantic/carnal interpretation.
The only other commentator is the inveterate investigator of stones, Yves Le Pestipon writing in L’Astrée : “Sa malice étonne au soleil du matin”. He has a point: at one metre tall, it should be much more insignificant than it is. Coming suddenly upon it, around the bushes – is a small shock.
Menhirs are problems without solutions. Using the same terminology for both this little stone and the massive pillar at Malves seems inappropriate. The elderly farmer called it ‘la borne entre Guitard et Le Petit Versailles’ – it was just a marker between the two big estates. Sicard reports in 1929, that only one flint chip and a fragment of an amphora were found at this site. It should be noted that little of importance has ever been found near the standing-stones of our region. Any theories about their significance, ritual or spiritual or biomagnetical, must remain just that – theory unsupported by scientific evidence. [ By ‘scientific’ I mean those practices accepted by the world-wide community of scientists. By ‘evidence’ I mean testable fact-based observations that can withstand repeated challenges by accredited examiners and which are available for peer-review. ]
The visitor should be prepared for disappointment: the splendid location is spoilt by the rubbish dumped around the edge of this rural lorry-park.
GPS coordinates are available at SESA in Carcassonne, or from me.