Archive for the ‘combe lignieres’ Tag

what’s in a name?   2 comments

The dolmen de Combe Lignières (or du Ruisseau de Thais) . . . . or was it Calamiac?

This is how you find out about your village, your commune : you open your big book called Quid. It’s the Encyclopaedia Britannica of France, which had to stop printing and go online when faced with the Internets. In March 2010 it disappeared . . . no explanation, no news item, no trace. Very weird – or just very French (you know, customer relations never a strong point . . . )

Fortunately, I copied/pasted/saved exactly what Quid had researched on La Livinière :

# Dolmens de Combe-Marie, Calamiac, Combe-Violon, Combegrosse, Les Meulières, Fonsorgues, Pierre Rousse, Caussérel, Saussenac, Castel Bouqui.
# Alignement mégalithique à Saussenac.
# Habitat chalcolithique au nord-est de La Livinière.
# Traces de village néolithique à Parignoles.

When I said that information about megalithic sites is fast being lost, I didn’t for a moment imagine that France’s main repository of historical and cultural data would disappear. This was the first place to visit when I began my researches a few years ago: presumably every village, every commune had been asked for its history (culled from local knowledge, regional historians and archaeologists). If I had started looking for dolmens this spring, I would have faced a blank wall. With no Quid, there was no way I would have begun to dig deeper – because I wouldn’t have known there was a deeper in which to dig.

But as you can see from the list, there’s a lot of digging to do (for which I use my head, not a spade . . . ).

There are dolmens up there on Quid’s list that have no other existence, other than being on Quid’s list. There are no traces – online or in libraries – of any dolmen at Combegrosse, or Fonsorgues or Pierre Rousse. These places don’t even appear on the map. Somewhere I came across a whisper of a rumour of a menhir at Pierre Rousse. It’s probably a rock. And red. There’s every possibility that the fantastical jumble of stones up at Les Meulières caused some Victorian enthusiast to stake his claim to a dolmen, and ditto at Castel Bouqui – but then they are  probably one and the same heap of stones.

The dolmen at Causserel is more than likely Le Grand Dolmen de Lauriol. Nothing whatsoever has been written about Causserel, while Lauriol has been well-researched. Combegrosse does not appear anywhere on the radar, and one might think the local enthusiast responsible for this inclusion actually meant the ‘grande combe’ which is Combe Lignières. Which brings us to the dolmen of Calamiac (cited by the Captain at Megalithic Portal) – and the odd fact that the dolmen of Combe Lignières is not on the list at all . . . (Combe Lignières is close to the hamlet of Calamiac). Then there’s supposed to be both dolmen and stone-alignment at Saussenac – only there isn’t. Unless by Saussenac, they mean Combe Lignières – because they too are close.

Do you begin to see the problem? Quid used to be the Bible of All Things France – but in reality you can’t trust all of it – and yet it was the only ‘point de départ’ available. And now it’s gone. And Nobody Has Mentioned It. What is it with France and information and the internet?

Try this : ask Google for Quid – seven pages in and you’re still no nearer the biggest encyclopaedia about France and the World.

So try this : ask Google for – around page 5 you’ll read that it is ‘le portail de la connaissance universelle et francophone accessible à tous, avec 100% d’informations utiles et fiables’ with  ‘1000000 de visiteurs par mois (source DART)’ but by page 12 there is still no acknowlegement that Quid is temporarily dead.

So try this : ‘ disparu’ : nope nothing there either, after 5 pages. Or ‘ pas accessible’? No – that gets you nowhere either. So one million visitors per month have a) not noticed or b) not noted online, that their world encyclopaedia has disappeared.

Now try this : ask Google for ‘dolmens’. Just type those 6 letters in, and what do you get? Result No 1 is Wikipedia, naturally –  and then rather surprisingly, at No 3 – this site. More surprising yet  is that if you switch to Images, there on page 1 you get our daughter Jessica, at a dolmen, on this site.

Dolmens and girls – it seems you internautes have made your choices, for whatever reasons.

Combe Lignières – a little lost world   Leave a comment

Never mind that the world is going to hell in a motorised golf-cart, never mind that the next volcano will trigger the collapse of tourism and take our livelihood down with it – this May day was insanely munificent : it kept delivering surprises and delights that went way past what I asked for.

This is the day that was in it : hot sun and breezes, grassy gullies and massive rock-shelters,  micro-vineyards interplanted with young olives, ancient cherry-trees and antique wells, wierd rock-formations and a rare stone-alignment . . . and a long-lost dolmen.

The walk up the combe was lush with grasses, wild asparagus and fennel – but the path led upward onto the hot stoney causse.

But up among the hot vines was a cool slot : limpid water gulped down, flavored with wild aniseed.

It’s a complex photo, but a simple scene : one ancient ‘guine’ or sour cherry; one stone shed with an old Peugeot, and one extraordinary stone chamber above. On the bed of the truck was a note : ‘VENEZ BOIRE une verre à la maison au-dessus. Pascal.’ An invitation to a friend, or to the world?

Stumbling around on the top of this little ‘causse’, I found this row of stones. Three are visible and another 6 disappear into the scrub : all in a clear 15 metre line running south-east: towards the winter solstice. At first I thought this was ‘the dolmen’, and was mightily disappointed – it looked all wrong. [More on the cromlech/stone alignment of Saussenac in the next post & Page].

But I have done my homework : I have identified other likely ‘white blobs’ on Google Earth, and I have Paul Ambert’s generalised description from the  ’70’s and so it’s on up into the sea of  prickly ilex. And after an hour of thorns and trees and scrub, a stoney ‘island’ appears, with that heart-jolting, breath-seizing glimpse of a white slab jutting above the garrigue : it’s there! It does exist!

It’s huge and it’s magnificent – and it’s a complete wreck.

The photos that follow, on the Combe Lignières Dolmen Page, will show what a mess time and peasants and archaeologists have made of the place. This is the Last Stone Standing. As usual, it’s the primary, eastern orthostat – almost always the deepest set and the biggest. Yet this recurrence is never mentioned by any of the experts who have visited all these dolmens of ours, over the past century. Do they not see these as buildings, as architecture? Do they only see them as ‘boxes’ that hold the objects they are so desirous of?

The expertise of archaeologists is not in doubt here – but the narrowness of focus has I fear, led to a failure of imagination. The subject of Ruins is going to be a recurrent theme in subsequent posts.

The day didn’t end there :

This old fellow was in clover – he thinks Combe Lignières is heaven.

We live under the slumbering bulk of Alaric, and forget how large it looms to others.

When architecture and landscape mean so much to ordinary people, I wonder at their exclusion by archaeologists : Ambert’s insistence that the Combe Lignière dolmen is oriented to the north – when this view is so present to the south.

The dolmen hunter’s reward :