La Pierre Plantée at Olonzac   11 comments

pierre plantee map olonzac

There are several places around here where the map shows ‘Pierre Plantée‘ or ‘Pierre Droite‘ or ‘Peyro Dreto‘ – though there is nothing to be seen there. So I set out with low expectations, parked in a layby where the old road once ran – and wandered among the vines and the garrigue for a while before spotting this great lump of rock by the side of the new D11/D5 [the one morphs into the other for no good reason at just this point . . . ] It lies 4 km. east of Olonzac at 2. 47′ 05″ E 43.16’ 29″ N on the http://www.geoportail.fr IGN map or DD 2.784722 43.274722

Archaeology is the poor sister among the Sciences, and menhirs are the poor relatives of the megaliths – at least in this region. They occur rarely enough for one to imagine that they would be treated with more interest – or at least more respect – than this one received.

pierre plantee base olonzac

The base is a metre across – its length is 3 m. and width is 1.20 m. – a massive monolith that shows the scars of its uprooting. The absence of lichen on two facets and the base – plus the coating of close-adhering argilous soil – leads me to think that it had been knocked down some time ago. If the fate of dolmens is to be smashed and pillaged for material gain, it is the fate of menhirs to be laid low to diminish their pagan powers.

pierre plantee top olonzac

Here the stone is naturally weathered – this could have been its pointed, skyward end; the road-side face is lichened too.

Was any effort made to search around the base of the menhir? Was its position ever marked precisely, before the machines moved in? The map shows it as south of the road – now it lies to the north. French pride in its ‘patrimoine‘ or heritage here shows a failure of imagination and respect – and scientific good practice. It could easily have been set on end – once more taking its rightful place in a landscape that embodies that fourth dimension – Time – which is vital to an understanding of ourselves.

Posted June 13, 2008 by Richard Williams

11 responses to “La Pierre Plantée at Olonzac

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  1. This imposant stone is certainly a menhir ! The name of the place “Pierre Plantée” is interesting too.

  2. I’ve been looking the entire afternoon for this menhir, I’ve been told it was around Bélesta, and in town I’ve been directed to it… Only to find something else, a small, nameless dolmen :(

    • Hello Esk
      I’m not sure how you got from Olonzac to Belesta – they are 100 kms apart. I have not had the opportunity to visit Belesta – but I have seen photos of a fine dolmen called Moli de Vent, and the fallen and broken standing stone at Caladroy.
      Menhirs are enigmatic : are they sacred objects or astronomical instruments – or simply territorial markers? Certainly, neolithic objects have been found close to some – while others only go back as far as the 7th C. or the Middle Ages.

      I’m now reading your blog with great interest.

  3. Hello Richard,
    It seems that I’ve got wrong informations. The problem when I looked up the menhirs and dolmens in Languedoc was I was using a cellphone to surf the web. My connection speed was low, so I didn’t have enough patience to check my info better. Moreover, it was just a holiday trip to satisfy my curiosity and not something serious. I trusted this site: http://www.languedoc-france.info/list_dolmens.htm
    We were also looking for the dolmens listed as located around Caixas and we didn’t find them either.
    Anyway, this trip has made me very curious about the subject and this is how I found your blog. I must say I stood up till 3.30 a.m. reading it. I find it very interested and I am determined to give a very close look at everything related to dolmens and menhirs as soon as I am back in Paris.
    I hope you enjoy my blog. I will let you know when I post about our unsuccessful trip, if you are interested in seeing pictures of the dolmen we saw.
    Your new faithful reader,
    Esk

  4. I noticed I’ve made a mistake: “your blog is very *interesting”. Sorry :)

    • I am so happy that your English is not as good as your French. ‘Nothing delights us more than the misfortunes of our closest friends.’ Choderlos de Lasclos. Les Liasons Dangereuses.
      But keep writng in all your languages.

      I too knew nothing about dolmens a few years ago. But ruins, and the effect of time, and our short-sightedness have become important subjects to me – and I have found myself now to be something of a small expert, at least in these poor sad little burial places.

      • Heh, what a good book that is :D
        I admit I still have to practise my English. Alot.

        I think dolmens and menhirs are my new passion. I can’t wait for my scholarship to cash in so I can rush into the first library I see and buy some boooooks. I am so curious! But I think there isn’t much information on this subject, am I wrong?

        Until then, I think I’ll finish reading your blog. It’s much easier on the laptop than on the cellphone :)

      • I looked up the Moli de Vent and that’s the dolmen we saw at Bélesta. Mystery solved :)

  5. I’m sorry to tell you that the stone you’re talking about was just found by a bulldozer during the seeding of a wineyard, a few years ago. I’m an archeologist and i think that the shape of this stone don’t share anything with a menhir.

  6. Hey, I’m finally going to post the story of my quest for dolmens on my blog :))

  7. Pingback: Un dolmen, deux dolmens, mais ils sont où donc ces dolmens? (*) | Thé, livres et tout le reste

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