Archive for the ‘diaclases’ Tag

Necropolis at Bois Bas   Leave a comment

Bois Bas is a farm at the end of a narrow winding road high up on the Causse above Minerve. It’s a maze – and an amazing place. Twelve dolmens and five diaclases, or fissure tombs on less than one acre. And all in a near-trackless jungle of maquis : holm-oak, box, spiney juniper and rock. Lots of rock. Terraces and pavements and slabs and piles of blinding-white limestone – any of which might be a tomb.

Dolmen 14 Bois Bas

The farm was bought by a co-operative or commune of ten, a year ago – they are carrying on from where the old owners left off: a big herd of goats, a handful of sheep, and some cows. They are modernising the dairy, and extending the campsite, with earth-closets. There are ensuite rooms to rent, a restaurant, a pool, and a stage for the weekly music and drama gigs. It’s ecological and not political – and while they don’t mind the odd dolmaniac turning up, they are busy and likely to get busier with the season. Park carefully, and ask for permission & directions at the main house.

The maquis covers most of this headland that slopes south of the farm towards the cliffs of the Gorges de la Cesse. Skirt two meadows and go through a gate and the low-growing woodland begins. A cart-track runs south: pass the first junction, leading off left, and continue a couple of minutes ’til you see two small piles of stones on your left. You leave the track here to enter the maquis. The owners have no wish to tart the site up, so you’ll need to sharpen up your ‘trackers’ eyes to spot the unobtrusive signs they have placed by the side of the path, and in the crooks of branches – indicating where there are ‘interesting events’. Some are no more than a jumble of rocks half-buried in the undergrowth, where a half-visible orthostat and a compass-alignment are all you have to help identify it. Others are breath-taking in their massiveness. Most are within a few paces of the main path – others lie beyond. It is easy to become disorientated as you duck and weave between the dense dwarf-oaks. And it’s easy to find yourself deep in a thicket standing on a pile of rocks that lured you on, only to leave you disappointed, and lost.

Les Gorges de la Cesse

Bruno Marc has written extensively about megaliths in Languedoc-Roussillon, and he has numbered twelve here, with a further three north of the farmhouse. I only found eight this time, and five diaclases – before stumbling suddenly out of the dense maquis onto the rock-ledge above the gorge. To go from ten-metre-visibility, to 500 metres of empty air, and a drop nearly as much – is stunning. The necropolis merits a good day – so pack lunch and sit out up high on warm rock- before plunging back in for more.

For more photos, descriptions and short video – go to Bois Bas page >>

The Minerve Dolmens   Leave a comment

Around Minerve, the number of dolmens counted stand at: one at Bruneau, four at Mayranne, six at Les Lacs, five at Le Bouys and twelve at Bois-Bas. The necropolis at Bois-Bas is unique in the Minervois by the sheer number of dolmens distributed over such a small area. The count varies : from 12 dolmens in a good state of conservation, there could be as many as 25 in all. Various forms of construction are represented in this necropolis: dolmens with passages, dolmens with low stone walls, megalithic cists, and at least two diaclases or fissures in the limestone pavement, still covered with slabs. In the commune of Minerve alone, four groups have been registered. The dolmens of Le Causse Grand were first noted by Renouvrier in 1831, and were searched thoroughly. Cazalis de Fondouce in 1879 described six dolmens, and J. Miquel thought there were ten below the farm of Les Lacs, between the chemin du Bouys and the rocks that overhang the Gorge de la Cesse. J. Lauriol, J. Guilaine, Audibert, Doctor Arnal, J. Hinault and P. Lambert have all added their descriptions. The orientation is generally south-west and south. The builders belonged to a nomadic group called Pasteurs des plateaux, the upland herdsmen, who lived in dry-stone huts and wooden dwellings.

Finds recovered from the dolmens include:-
Personal ornaments and weaponry, pottery, and skeletal remains. Calcareous pearls – perles des cavernes – which are pisoliths composed by accretions of calcite around a germ of grit in running water. Ornaments made of shell; schist stones glittering with micas, hornblende, graphite and quartz; polished bone.
Arrow-heads of flint, bone and bronze.
Awls, rings, amulets and buttons in bronze
Clothing and hair pins in bronze
Large pottery items – campaniform and Verrazian
Skeletal remains: teeth, skull-bones, finger-bones

These items and documents relating to the various sites can been seen at the museum in Minerve village.

For more photos, 19th. century drawings and full text, go to Pages >>

Les Lacs 1 Passage grave