The megaliths of Rennes-le-Château
Part 1 : A lone-some witness to a forgotten age
The enigma of a lost civilisation
the earliest presence of Mankind, the area which would later become known
as the Razès was inhabited by our ancestors. The plateau upon which
Rennes-le-Château would later be built is rich in small deposits that
equally reveal its occupation by our distant forefathers. Indeed, as in
so many other regions of France, the “cult of the stone” is
in evidence on this hill of mystery. But in truth, we know very little about
the beliefs which these people had and the importance they attached to the
stones. Trying to interpret their meaning is more an insight into our own
thought process than a thorough understanding of our forefathers.
In the final analysis, even with what the archaeologists and other scientists are able to explain, we have to admit that a profound understanding is always just beyond our reach – due to the forgetfulness of Mankind. What we do know, is that sometimes the relics of this long gone civilisation have been reapplied for purposes that are not conform to their original use – and sometimes painstakingly so.
Still, the megalithic civilisation is very much like the mystery of Rennes-le-Château: there only a limited amount of certainties, upon which the entire debate rests and these pieces can be variously interpreted, leading to a multitude of possibilities. How apt therefore, that there remains a megalith in Rennes-le-Château, which for some is, of course, another ingredient to the puzzle of the village.
Megaliths in the mystery of Rennes-le-Château
megaliths are at the end of small roads and in the middle of fields. They
require some effort and determination to visit them, sometimes in dire weather
conditions. But not so in the case of Rennes-le-Château, where the
megalith is situated in the middle of the village, right next to the mayor’s
office. Still, in spite of its central location, few visitors make any effort
to see it, for the stream of visitors normally remains on the perimeter
of the church and the domain of Saunière, sometimes wondering down
the street towards the castle, but seldom entering further into the village,
unless someone has followed the first parking panel as the climb into the
village. But even then, most people retrace their steps to the main road,
rather than wander through the small streets in front of them. Of course,
the villagers are not at all upset with this state of affairs, for it means
that despite the tourists, their streets remain quiet. Hence, when we walk
around the old village church, we find that there is hardly anyone around,
even though the site itself is linked with a sufficient amount of mystery
that should warrant more visitors than the site now welcomes.
It is nearby, to the right of the new mayor’s office, that we find a shelter, inside of which sits the ancient megalith.
we should highlight that this megalith was not found in the village or the
plateau of Rennes-le-Château itself. Some believe that the stone was
discovered relatively recently, during construction work, which is not true.
In fact, the stone was always exposed to the open air and never “covered”
in any way. But certain indelicate researchers pushed it over and then it
tumbled into a small ravine. As to why the stone was moved from its original
location: it is the usual story of Rennes-le-Château: some people
were convinced that underneath, a – the – treasure was located
and as such, the stone was moved, to find out that they were sadly wrong
about their theory.
It seems that as a consequence of this destruction, the local authority – and especially the mayor – took the initiative and decision to remove the megalith from its precarious position and place it within the safe reach and safety of the village.
Of course, some have argued that this should never have occurred and that it should never have been moved from its original location, to leave it as it was. In that case, we should point out that the entire stone would have become a legend, for apparently even at the time of the mayor’s intervention, few people knew its location. Worst case scenario here is that some researcher then found the site and would decide to begin to break it up in smaller pieces, to carry each one with them as trophies of war. Or, as is so often the case, to add their own graffiti, either painted or carved, on top of the stone. In short, a decision was made and it was the best of the available decisions.
“A prehistoric stone”
We therefore applaud the initiative, whose sole purpose was to save this witness from total oblivion – as well as idiotic manoeuvres – and to place it at the disposition of anyone who wants to come and see it. It is for free, and accessible at all times, with parking nearby. What more could we want?
An explanatory panel is attached to the shelter:
Prehistoric engraved stone
this rock dug from a natural basin, were realized,
through hammering with flint, about ten cruciform signs: a cross
on a triangle and 8 single crosses
They are anthropomorphic representations representing
human stylized silhouettes, according to the conventions
of prehistoric design. They are characteristic of
the Neolithic of the south of France and date back to 4000 to 4500 years.
original location was overhanging the “Vallée de Couleurs”,
not too far from the cave of “La Madeleine”, itself above the
little river de Couleurs. Its ancient location was therefore in the hamlet
of “Païlheres” (before Granes), towards the “Vallée
des Bals”. This overhang contains several other rocks (still in situ),
which are less spectacular and less carved than the one rock currently on
display in Rennes-le-Château. We can therefore speak of a megalithic
group, with this stone possibly serving as its altar. As such, the site
would be intriguing and of some historical interest, but it would not be
unique or more spectacular than other such sites in the area or elsewhere
in France. It is only seen as important because it is situated near Rennes-le-Château.
Still, some details require our attention. The cruciform inscriptions, or simple “crosses”, are also carved in the other stones, but in such a manner so that they are only truly visible at sunset. Of course, there is no way of knowing whether the same applied to this stone, as it has been displaced. But it might not be a far stretch to say that the altar may have followed the rule of the other stones of which it was once part.
Forgotten, but forever enigmatic
area in which the stone sat is seldom visited and the relatively few people
who come here do so mainly to find their way towards the nearby cave of
“the Magdalene”. But in this sector, there are also the remains
of a collapsed building. The thickness of its walls are approximately one
metre, which is, to say the least, “excessive” for a building
of apparently no importance, in the middle of open fields. Of that which
remains, it seems that there was a first floor, which had not so much ordinary
windows as slots. As such, it may be some outpost or lookout that served
some purpose either in the defence of Rennes, or some other structure or
village elsewhere. Another ruin nearby is better known. It is the site where
statues in gold, partially molten, were located. It would indeed be imprudent
to make a direct connection between these two locations, as well as speculate
too much about what this second building could have once contained. Equally,
it would be imprudent to make a direct link with the megalithic site and
its monolithic altar.
Still, let us note that if someone was hiding something in a rush, to protect it, then to recover it, one needs a point of reference, either for themselves to recover it later, or for whomever you will impart the secret too. That point of reference needs to be durable, and the more important the secret and the longer it needs to be identified, the more durable the point needs to be. A monolithic altar is amongst the best tools to withstand the test of time. And as it had religious carvings, it was even better protected as the locals often had all types of often superstitious stories about such megalithic remains, guaranteeing their survival across time.
So we know that the megalith was dislodged and thrown into the ravine below. In the hypothetical scenario outlined above, we could ask whether the destruction of the megalith was therefore just irresponsible vandalism, or welcome, if not invited, destruction and removal of key indicators. If it was a marker, then its destruction would have obliterated the “treasure map”.
when the rock fell, it did not seem to be damaged much. And the various
inscriptions thus remained intact. The descriptive panel states that they
are crosses, some on a triangular basis. This rules out an “anthropomorphic
representation” for what that form means, assuming that the expert
consulted for the panel has it right when he states that a simple cross
represents a human being.
We note that this design – a cross on a triangle – is not unique. We have come across it elsewhere, for example in a room of the charterhouse of Ste Croix en Jarez. It is also found on a window of the Cathar castle of Allbière. Still, this is a likely coincidence, for the design is hardly complex enough to make it absolutely unique. Indeed, it is a very basic design and that is perhaps a key indicator of its extreme age. But what does it mean? Who knows.
Furthermore, we refer to the little known research that Jos Bertaulet performed in the final years of his life, which occurred in the dense forests between Rennes-le-Château and Blanchefort. There, he found an enigmatic rock, very much like this altar stone, whose base was supported by smaller stones, and thus raised, as is customary with dolmen. We can only wonder whether the same occurred for this megalith.
A visor or receptacle?
notes that the monolith was trimmed, as can be seen from the traces which
remain from that intervention. It meant that the monolith became largely
parallelepiped. The rock itself is of a type that is common in the sector
of the two Rennes. The only peculiarities are traces of oxide, red ochre,
on one side. This does not appear to be natural and seems to have been done
on purpose, to provoke the sensation as if fluid ran down this side, leaving
the impression that it ran from the receptacle on the top of the stone.
From this “red blood” trace and the receptacle on top which
some have interpreted as “sacrificial” in nature, the conclusion
has been drawn that this was a sacrifice stone – altar – and
from that, to stating that human sacrifices were performed here. But this
is an unproven hypothesis, which has been projected on our ancient forefathers
in a rather dire attempt to show how primitive they were.
Next, if we count the single crosses, we count nine and not eight as the panel states. The dimensions of each differ from the next and they do not appear to be in any particular formation. They are divided in two zones, on both sides of the receptacle. The greatest part is very flat and contains most of the inscriptions, including that cross with a triangular base; on the other side of the receptacle there are only two. But one of these is particularly distinguished as it is more neatly drawn than the others. This carving is also larger and also the only one to show some stylisation of the end of the branches of the cross.
There are also four or five cupola, leaving the question whether or not this is the orientation into which one had to look and which may thus be linked with the setting sun illumination that typifies the other stones.
A photograph that brings further illumination
We then found a photograph of the explanatory panel above the megalith that was taken four or five years ago. We note that the text then was different from the one currently on display:
age: 3000 years
The different signs on the surface allow one to think that
they were used in a more recent period – the 12th-13th century –
as a Cathar altar.
It was discovered in the perimeter of the community of Rennes-le-Château
The shadow of the Cathars… and the Grail?
panel indicates a line of research in the direction of Catharism, which
had a strong presence in this region and which, according to some of the
many theories on offer, was linked with certain treasures – and the
mystery of Rennes-le-Château. Still, if there was a Cathar treasure,
most experts assume that it was a spiritual treasure – a certain type
of knowledge, rituals or way of life – rather than a material treasure.
When speaking of a Cathar treasure, the story of the Grail is never too far removed. And when one says Grail, one says Joseph of Arimathea, the key medieval figure in the Grail legends, a man who appears in the story of Rennes-le-Château through the model, on which a “Tomb of Joseph of Arimathea” is identified. But that is another story. In this story, we note that the first panel, for a period of time, spoke of a Cathar altar stone, only to be changed in more recent times, in which the Cathar dimension is no longer mentioned. Did the first consultant(s) used by the mayor’s office speculate on the Cathar dimension, only for others to highlight a different scenario, which resulted in changing the panel?
Everything must change
that is not the only change. Originally, the date was thought to be 3000
years old. Now, it is pushed back to 4000 to 4500 years old. This is a major
push back in time. The first, original panel also does not mention “anthropomorphic
representations” as being the interpretation the marks on the stone.
In fact, the original text seems to suggest that the markings are recent,
from the 12th or 13th century and sitting within the Cathar re-use of the
If it is 12th or 13th century, the engravings would have a religious, Cathar aspect. It also suggests that someone was be able to explain them, for how else determine them as Cathar in origin?
Next, the location of its discovery has been omitted from the second panel. Finally, we note that the purpose of the stone has changed from “sacrificial stone” to “prehistoric engraved stone”, which is so all-encompassing that it says hardly anything at all. “This is a large, prehistoric stone.” Yes, we know – tourists are hardly that thick not to see that!
Just a rolled stone
controversial bit of information has thus been removed from the stone. From
a stone that could be linked with the mystery of Rennes-le-Château,
via Catharism, it has become just a stone, of Neolithic origins.
No surprise therefore that no-one took or is taking too much interest in this. Indeed, if someone were interested, it would have been moved towards the direction of the village’s tourist trail. Yet, despite hardly any interest, a decision was made to change the explanatory panel. For whatever reason, today, the stone is neutralised: it is hardly visited and any connection to the mystery of the village has been removed too. Coincidence, or design? And if design, whose?