We’re still up on Le Causse de Siran – and could be here for quite a while yet . . .
It’s a big, heart-shaped expanse of featureless garrigue, ribbed with little gullies and sudden ravines – and at its widest it is three kilometers across. If the Peyro-Rousso dolmen marks its western border with the commune of La Livinière, then its eastern limit is marked by the two Fournes dolmens – and this standing stone. The boundary-line between Siran and Minerve to the east runs right through it.
It’s not very big or impressive – which may explain why it has gone unremarked. The only place it appears is on Bruno Marc’s list of menhirs of Herault – where it is described as 1m. 35 long (about right) – but ‘couché’ : fallen over.
However – this stone does not look like it has recently been resurrected (extensive evidence of weathering and more importantly, lichens) : so one wonders where Marc got his information from. I suspect that part of his list for the Aude and Herault is based on Sicard’s 1929 Inventory.
Menhirs cause trouble. They may not mean to – but they do. Some are magnificent – and somewhat manly. Others are more modest. Some are carved and others are just lumps of rock. This one is on a border line and has an ‘orientation’ of North/South, while others seem to ‘point’ in random directions and are in the middle of nowhere. Some have neolithic artifacts around their bases – others are documented as mediaeval constructions.
And then there are the theories that would have these stones as geo-astrologic artifacts : coordinates for mapping the heavens or conduits for ley-line energies.
[Note: In the interests of balance and fairness – here is a link to a site that takes all that stuff very seriously, and a stage further. It’s a home-grown site that maps our region into a veritable spiders-web of energies. So you can all go out and put his exhaustive theories to the test. Please report back here the moment you feel more centred, or spiritual – or silly.]
I sometimes wish I had not stumbled across this one : there is just too little – or too much – to say on the matter of Lone Stones.
There is more (basic) information and a few more photos on the Fournes menhir Page – now to the left, on the new-look site. GPS coordinates will be available through SESA in Carcassonne, or from me.
Time to take a break from les Lacs – the density of tombs and the ‘heavy traffic’ of amateur and academic diggers becomes wearisome after a while.
There are other, more solitary prehistoric tombs dotted along the limestone karsts of the Minervois. But they exist in a kind of limbo: a half-life that continues in reference-sources such as the records of communes, on Quid.fr, in Wikipédia, and in the Megalithic Portal where ‘the Captain’ has assiduously done his homework in citing all known reports. They really do deserve the name of ‘France’s Most Forgotten Dolmens’.
There’s a string of them, between the almost-necropolis of la Matte and the real necropolis of Bois-Bas, and the semi-necropolis of les Lacs : Les Dolmens de Combe Lignières, de Combe Violon, du Vallat de Vignes, de Combe Marie . . . and then others, even more ignored – de La Foret, de Mousse, de Fournes, de Castel Bouqui . . .
Here’s the very small, very strange little Coffre du Combe Marie:
It’s not very impressive, with headstone cracked and fallen forward.
Why contemporary archaeologists no longer take interest in locating these dolmens, is no great mystery – they’re no longer sexy and there’s no money available. Or – the book’s been written : the archaeologists of the ’70’s have been in, and have trashed the site forevermore (see some future post : Archaeology is Destructive) – so what’s the point?
As long as prehistory, and archaeology, and dolmens are seen as the sole preserves of archaeologists – who, having visited, move on with little concern about how others view the distant past (other than a strictly scholastic view, as opposed to an Everyman’s Right to view the past) – then large chunks of humanity’s impact on the earth will go unobserved/unvisited/undiscussed.
Peak-Wood happened to prehistoric communities. Peak-Tin, and Peak-Copper altered the trade and development of proto-societies. Peak-oil is about to change the direction of our ‘modern society’ in unimaginable ways. The wilful closetting of information, into various ‘expertises’ that are impermeable to other areas of knowledge – looks close to criminal. Looks deliberate. Looks like ‘they’ want ‘us’ to remain ignorant. Of course, more prosaically, they don’t want ‘the general public’ trampling over ‘their’ territory.
Sometimes you wonder – who do archaeologists hate most? Greedy landowners who ransacked dolmens to add to their collections? Early ‘gentlemen-scientists’ who covetted a few bronze daggers? Ignorant landowners who used the stones to cap their wells? Shepherds who rebuilt the ruins to make a shelter? Stricken peasants looking for a bit of gold? Previous archaeologists blundering about? Tourists trampling the precious evidence? Sad detectors with a spade?
Our modern-day prehistorian is a poor paranoid creature: 140 generations of unscientific people have been busy, messing up his dig. Fortunately, France is good at making Laws. And there is a law against all this. Any mediaeval person desecrating a tomb will be punished. Unfortunately, anyone nowadays with a metal-detector will go unpunished.
Small tomb – ok. But the big history? The big history lies in the 880 teeth that were found by Paul Ambert, during his meticulous search in 1971. And that there is evidence of early Bronze Age incineration.
For more on this, see Le Coffre du Combe Marie page, to the right – under Dolmens.