We walk up part of Alaric mountain with family and friends every christmas day – it’s just behind our village. This time we went up to the ridge called Le Roc Gris where all around is a chaos of limestone rubble, dwarf box and juniper, rosemary and thyme.
At the top we walked the walls of le Champ de Roland, a late neolithic defensive enclosure.
There are nine villages in this photo, with another five in view – it’s an extraordinary lookout point.
And then visited the ruined dolmen tucked below the summit, in the mouth of a cave. From habit I pulled out the compass – the 120º setting was still there from the solstice reading at La Madeleine. So both dolmens of Alaric mountain, ours at the east end and the other at the west, are both ‘moment-of-sunrise’ tombs. Strictly old-school traditionalists.
So that’s midwinter solstice sorted for 2010 – it’s up the near vertical kitty-littered scree-slope for me next year, with hopes of clearer skies.
More info from my initial visit to the dolmen, and the defensive enclosure, are on the Alaric dolmen Page, and the Roc Gris oppidum Page.
Dolmens can never really be found, because they can never really be lost. But they can be misplaced or forgotten as the memory of them fades, in the minds of villagers who are ageing and dying. And in our region where nearly all do still live in villages, and in a country whose population is ageing and dying at an increasing rate – this could mean a serious loss to our collective knowledge.
Today I found one – again. It is not on any map, nor in any book. But if I asked any old person in the village of Moux ‘Where’s the old tomb on Mont Alaric?’ – they’d all know. Roughly. The young wouldn’t, and couldn’t care less.
For the last month that ‘roughly’ has had me scouring the stoney slopes of Alaric in vain. Until today. Armed with further information – from the local vigneron who ‘first’ found it in 1956 as a lad of 16 – and whose hazy recollections had me lacerating my legs scrambling through the spiny garrigue for hours in completely the wrong area – I felt sure I was homing in on it today.
The thrill of sighting it as I leaned out over a limestone cliff, was immense. As he had warned: ‘Il n’y a pas grande gueule . . .’ – it was nothing to shout about, compared to the sophisticated architecture of the Saint-Eugène or Pépieux ‘allées couvertes‘ – being as I estimate just a slightly extended ‘dolmen simple‘ – at 4 metres it might even be a ‘dolmen à couloir’ or passage-grave : but it was enough for me. It was my first Find.
Note: More photos and the complete text on the Alaric dolmen & cave page >>