The Coumesourde Stone
Part 3: Autopsy of an inscription
How one stone can hide another
part two may be largely based on a series of “ifs”, these possible
scenarios obviously were explored to result in a conclusion, which is, as
mentioned, that the Coumesourde stone has been rediscovered. Specifically,
that it has been rediscovered by using the notes left by Bigou... and that
Ernest Cros was indeed the person who was more than likely the last person
before now to have discovered it.
We also know that the site was not too close to the hamlet of Coume Sourde, nor near the small stream. The inscription is to be found elsewhere, which no doubt explains why none of the researchers were able to discover it in Coume Sourde. Even though we do not want to reveal the precise location at present – of which more soon – the fact that it exists, and is not in Coumesourde as such, is of interest. Was it an error? A misnomer? Wilful deception on someone’s part? If so, whose?
A new start
having been able to see “the real deal”, it is now also clear
that reality does not fully – and in some cases not at all –
correspond to the various descriptions and drawings that are in circulation.
Its discovery also makes some theories that have been created about the
stone implausible – if not totally discredited. For example, the theory
that the stone would have been removed from its original location and be
present in Paris, is obviously false. The theory that the inscription was
on a freestanding stone, is equally erroneous. Indeed, the “Coumesourde
stone” is, from now on, no longer a stone in the most precise meaning
of the word, as it is an inscription on a rock face. Furthermore, it is
not located in Coumesourde. Despite these two misnomers, for clarity we
will continue to refer to it as the “Coumesourde stone”.
That the various drawings are not conform to reality also means that any old theory as to its meaning, is now obsolete and new attempts at interpretation need, should and no doubt will be made. Though some of these will be as, if not more, fanciful than previous attempts, we would like to underline that the discoverers of the site, aided by the notebooks of Bigou, are trying to define an interpretation themselves, which will have the advantage of being made within the framework of Bigou’s information.
Still, despite none of the older versions and theories are precise, it is clear that each version was not too far off the mark, and that some of the theories which were created upon the drawing may indeed be seen as having relied on certain “privileged” or insider information. The question, which no doubt will never be answered, is where precisely these authors were able to get this inside information. Furthermore, if that source of information turned out to be one person, or a collective of people working together, the question should be asked why a multitude of theories were introduced – but, indeed, that is another “if”.
We need to add that the non-disclosure of the precise location of the stone is voluntary – for the safekeeping of the inscription itself – as well as being a demand from those who discovered it. In return, we were allowed to publish a series of photographs, which showed the stone, though not any detail of its surroundings, which would give away its location. It is an unfortunate truth of the Rennes-le-Château enigma that as soon as a new discovery is made, that item is either destroyed or stolen. The enthusiasts have become their own worst enemy, and hence the reason why we have to use this policy. Still, we are in the possession of GPS coordinates and have been given the ok to provide anyone in an official capacity with this information. It is then up to that relevant authority to decide whether or not to reveal details. The discoverers themselves are equally making contact with the proper authorities. Our organisation will furthermore make a mould of the inscription, and once completed, this will become part of the material that members can consult, and which will be placed on display when requested. Hence, if the original would befall a fate many thought it had already befallen, no “real” information will be lost.
The curious knowledge of Ernest
discovered by Cros in 1928, the location was then forgotten again; no-one
seems to have known where the inscription was located, as otherwise, various
claims would have been made – and various photographs would have done
the round. But nothing of the sort occurred, except for one design, created
by Ernest Cros himself and which, as we have and will see, does not conform
totally to the reality on the ground.
Again, that no-one found the location, should not cause consternation, as the location is not on Coume Sourde – and we seriously need to question whether the name given to the inscription was hence a mere error, or wilful deception – if so, by whom?.
Ernest Cros really find the location and its message? It is possible that
the answer is yes. His drawing is the closest to the real engraving, though,
at the same time, it is also clear that there are some differences –
and more than one would normally expect – and accept. And hence, some
form of deception on his part is in evidence, and hence the question needs
to be asked why he altered the design.
Several other questions need to be asked too: did Cros feed back to his Spanish colleagues or supervisors? Did he do this correctly, or did he feed them this “lie”? At its simplest, we probably need to accept that Cros fed back to his colleagues/superiors, stating that “the site” definitely existed – and perhaps the drawing itself was merely a quick survey, to accompany his initial report. Perhaps he later went back to the site, to perform a more detailed survey – one which was not found/stolen in the 1960s. Various possible scenarios exist, but it is clear that amidst the various scenarios, one of them has to be correct.
present, it is clear that Cros found the inscription and that this knowledge
was known in the 1960s, upon which a variety of authors began to unleash
their “intelligence” onto the design. It would take another
half century before a Spanish fraternity would send – once again –
not one but two specialists into the region; they worked for one year, using
the indications left by Bigou, to identify this site and ended up discovering
the engraving – which was not in or near Coume Sourde.
A new start
Even though the engraving is now known, what the engraving implies remains a mystery. Its origins equally remain unspecified, but amidst the myriad of possibilities, one does propel itself to the forefront: as Bigou left information about the inscription in his notebook, it is obviously from at least the 18th century, and hence may indeed have been created by the Marquis Paul-Vincent de Fleury. Why he did so – and whether this has anything to do with the Templar treasure – remains questionable. Seeing that specifically the theories about Templar treasure were based on erroneous versions of the inscription, it is unlikely.
the inscription itself, it is nevertheless clear that the quality of the
engraving itself is clearly “amateurish”, and not the work of
an expert. Indeed, bringing an expert labourer to this remote location,
to place an enigmatic inscription into a rock surface would by default have
raised questions the labourer would more than likely not have been able
to keep to himself.
The inscription was done on a surface that was largely rectangular in size, relatively smooth, into which the inscription was hammered. Neither the surface nor the inscription shows any sign of “perfectionism”: creating the inscription was all that seemed to be important; its finishing was not important. It means that the inscription definitely did not need to conform to any aesthetic qualities, and hence is of a practical nature.
As to the letters – if not numbers – it is clear that some are hardly readable and, as a whole, are incomprehensible. Furthermore, none are aligned, and none conform to the same height, intervals or styles. In short, it reconfirms that this is the work of an amateur, but that in itself is important: it was an amateur who realised that he had to leave – here – an inscription, on a surface that would not disappear with age. Rock was the only surface that would accommodate him. He searched for a space, relatively flat, and located in a place where he could work and make the inscription. It is also clear why he would have preferred native rock, and not a freestanding stone – as the latter could be (re)moved.
Once accomplished, the inscription would remain – though over time, lichen and other things would obscure it. But it would remain in situ, and withstand the test of time.
course, sceptics might argue that this inscription and its poor quality
are telltale signs of the “fact” that this was the imaginary
pastime of a shepherd – shepherds being held responsible and blamed
for so many things in this enigma. Of course, this flight of fancy (of the
sceptics) should be seen for what it is – to which we will add that
the area is ill-suited for flocks of animals. Also, this type of inscription
is not what shepherds would endeavour to do whilst the flock was eating
Still, by placing this inscription on this rock, it is clear that its creator also left it to be visible to anyone who would pass by the location. Over time, the inscription would indeed begin to disappear from sight, as its creator must have known. But not so in the immediate future. The lichen with which the engraving was covered only attached themselves on the surface since Cros – Bigou must have found the inscription still perfectly intact.
Hence, its creator must have realised that whatever rebus he placed on that rock, would have been seen by unknowing passers-by, but would be deciphered only by those who came on a specific mission to locate this site, and do whatever else was necessary from that point onwards.
Known to exist in Bigou’s time, with Bigou in exile, the priest could do nothing more than write down what he knew. Then, in 1928, Cros was sent on a mission, and then in the early 21st century, a new mission was launched. Both missions were able to find the engraving, but, it seems, that was the end of it. And it appears that after Cros, the location was forgotten again, for why else send a new search team out?
It seems clear that Bigou must have left more information in his notebooks than merely just a location of where to look and what to find. The purpose of the rebus must equally have been conveyed upon his reader. That information, however, remains within the bailiwick of the Spanish society.
A point of view
are hence confronted with the reality that the inscription – the rebus
– was inscribed there, because it had to be there – and for
example not secreted away in a notebook in a library, or by some other means.
Location was important – primary. As the “key” had to
be “there”, it is perhaps the reason why the inscription had
to be coded: so that unknowing passers-by would merely say “what’s
that?”, but would not read things like “go to place X and you
will find treasure Y”. Which brings us to the second observation:
by inscribing this rebus there, it indeed seems to have marked something
there or nearby, and whatever that something was, was either secreted away
there by someone in the past, or had always been there. Hence, it seems
that whatever it was, could not or should not be moved. It also seems that
whatever it was, was there in Bigou’s time, and we will assume that
Cros did not remove whatever was there neither.
Also, whether the marquis, whom is at present the likeliest suspect of having created the engraving, placed something there, or was the one who decided to leave an indicator in a certain location so that this or another site would not be forgotten, is another good question.
based upon what we now have, certain things are clear:
1. the inscription exists;
2. the inscription is in a rockface that cannot be moved, and hence suggests the inscription is relevant to something in or near that site;
3. the inscription is encoded, so that only certain people would be able to decode it – and no doubt must have gotten the key to decode;
4. the inscription is done by an amateur, suggesting a professional would have questioned the why and what of the task he was asked to perform;
5. the inscription was placed in a visible location, so that it would indeed be visible. If no-one was allowed to see what was written on the rock itself, the artist should have opted to place this inscription onto the surface of a small cavity, of which there are hundreds in the region.
it is equally clear that the site, though open to all, is not often visited
– and hardly so today. Hence, those who come here, are either lost,
ramblers, or those with a mission, and hence no doubt heir – the inheritors
– of the man who encoded the inscription here, as a key indicator.
As to who did it: though de Fleury remains the first and main suspect, there is no solid evidence to prove it was him. Even though de Fleury may have been aware – Bigou must have gotten his information from somewhere – he may have been just one in a series of people, which would include him, Bigou, Cros and the recent expedition members.
What is clear, though, is that the Coumesourde stone must indeed be classified in the same category as the tombstone of Marie de Nègre: information belonging to the aristocracy, and which had to be preserved from the ravages of the French Revolution… and was done as such by Bigou.
The difficult game of signs
short, though we know it now exists – which is more than we did a
year ago – as to its origins or purpose, we are still unclear. The
“key”, it is clear, is held by this Spanish private society,
which disposes of the Bigou documents. It is also clear that they hold the
key as to announcing what – if any – they want to make public
– and when.
Still, it is clear that now, for the very first time, there is an authoritative rendition of the lettering of the inscription and that one can perhaps complete a decodation without the need of a “key”; perhaps the inscription contains all the information that is required to decode it.
us note that the photographs on this page were taken after the lichen were
removed, the rock surface was cleaned, and that the inscription was then
retraced by dropping carbon in the incisions, which is easily removable
– and occurs naturally, e.g. after rainfall.
Having completed that task, what became visible are “words” such as “PARVA” and “PPACVM”, which is close to the often-proposed “PRACUM”. Indeed, the second P of PPACVM may have been an R, with that specific line having become too indistinguishable today. PRACVM would definitely be the more logical option.
As to PARVA, this is accomplished by using the letter V that floats over the word between the letter R and A – of course, this is our reading of it, and might not conform to what the encoder intended. If incorrect, it would be “PARA”, which might have a meaning in relationship with the V above it. V was both the 22nd letter of the Roman alphabet, as well as the Roman numeral five, making it even harder to decide what’s what. Hence, it could be 5 PARA or V PARA, or variations therefore.
This already leaves several possibilities – at least five – and this purely in one area of the inscription. And there is no method – unless there is a key – to know which of the five options here might be the proper one. Each other block of text offers more possible interpretations, as a stand alone, as well as a whole, making for hundreds, if not thousands of possible renderings.
However, we also observe that the superposition of a letter, which seems as if it was an omission from the word below, was also employed in the tombstone of Marie de Nègre in the cemetery of Rennes-le-Château. The latter inscription seems to have been the work of Bigou, and it is of course his hand which also wrote down details about the Coumesourde stone in his notebooks. Did he perhaps use this technique on the tombstone as he had seen it in use on the Coumesourde stone? Though it is indeed possible that Bigou himself was the man who also created the Coumesourde inscription.
drawings that circulated for a few decades showed a triangle, with its point
down. Though there is a basic triangular design on the actual inscription,
the actual drawing is not as triangular as one would suspect. For example,
there is a horizontal line running through the triangle; the right hand
side line of the “triangle” stops here and does not continue
below to complete the triangle.
In fact, only the word “MEDIO” can be said to be with any certainty to be both on the drawings and the actual inscription. But then again… To create the O, you would carve out a circle. But in the case of this “O”, it is carved out as a whole, thus making it an oval, rather than a letter O. We note that another O elsewhere is carved in a similar matter. As it required more effort and is more difficult than carving a simple O, it is clear that there is meaning of some form behind it. Again, the question is what type of meaning.
to the number of crosses – disputed in the various versions in circulation
– there are two, one at the bottom and one near “MEDIO”,
largely in the centre of the drawing. The problem with this central cross
is that it misses its fourth, upper branch. There is, in essence, no “room”
for this branch, as the space above is occupied by the word MEDIO. But it
is clear that this cannot be a mere error, but must have had some type of
intent. Indeed, one might argue that the design was such that the M of MEDIO
was positioned precisely there and in that fashion, so that it would form
the fourth – missing – branch of the cross below. Of course,
is it an M, or instead “I v I”? This would make it “I
v I DIO” or even “1 5 1 DIO”. Various options and suggestions
once again. And if a cipher was employed, then it is also the case that
what seems obvious – MEDIO – is often not so clear on a second
There is a final group of carvings that are on the extreme left of the rectangle: one can read, as best as one can:
this O is an oval, rather than a O.
This text is definitely located outside of the “interior” of the engraving. Again, why is the question.
A precise relief, after cleaning
four versions in circulation, we provide a fifth one, which is more conform
to the original than all four previous versions, but which should definitely
not be (ab)used to overlay it on maps – for it is not a 100% accurate
rendering – if anything can ever be.
Furthermore, the rendering was done based on the photographs that were taken after the surface was cleaned. As mentioned, a 100% conform mould will be done in the future. We would like to add that when discovered, the inscription was about two-thirds invisible, and covered by lichen and wild-growing vegetation. Although cleaned, no chemicals that would have a detrimental effect on the rock were used. Furthermore, the vegetation itself was as much as possible preserved – not primarily out of regard for our environment, but largely to make sure that it could easily be moved and repositioned, hence obscuring the cleaned rock surface underneath. Furthermore, over the past few months, no-one has gone to this site, so that nature was able to “repossess” ownership over the secrecy of this site – as no doubt, this series of articles is going to send over a horde of people whom are often those who should not go over there. But this period of “grace” between taking the photographs and publishing them, was important so that other traces of human activity would disappear – as well as allowing the discoverers to speak to the relevant authorities about their discovery.
Reconstruction from the engravings, proposed by one of the authors reporting on the stone previously:
IN + MEDIO
Tracing from the stone itself:
I IA M SAT
I I NA
We would like to thank the group of Catalan researchers for entrusting us with their information, and specifically José Donorgues, Roderic Caruana and Luis Manderra.
No photographs can be used without prior, written consent.