Montagne d'Alaric GB
Intro to the Montagne
Recent Research into Dolmens
On the Montagne d'Alaric
The Montagne d'Alaric is situated just to the south of the RN 113, between Lézignan-Corbières and Trèbes. It is of particular interest to Visigothic history (see "The Visigothic Inheritance) because we believe that King Alaric ll made his last stand here against the Clovis the Franc in 508AD.
Taken with a camera without a wide-angle lens, thus 2 photos; at the foot is "Plaine d'Alaric" where Alaric fought his last battle.
The popular story in France is that Alaric was vanguished by Clovis near Poitiers, and a plaque is there commemorating the event and the place; but all the local historians say that this battle never took place. Amazing that French schoolchildren are still told the tale that Clovis vanguished Alaric ll at Poitiers. We find it hard to believe that history the historians know to be untrue is still taught and in the books.
Alternative evidence says the battle took place near Carcassonne, and this is one of the reasons why we were so inspired to write "The Visigothic Inheritance." The Visigoths were completely misjudged by the Frankish chroniclers, who indulged in some of the first "media hype" known in the Dark Ages. the Franks apparently won all the battles, killed thousands of "heretics", under the command of leaders so vigorous they killed the enemy king themselves in the thick of battle . . .
There'a more to come about that, but meantime, the mountain is of great interest for its unique biology, micro-climate and prehistory. This first report is re-printed by kind permission of "Dolmens" website, who have discovered evidence of habitation on the Montagne d'Alaric, long before either the Visigoths or the Francs were there.
Dolmen research on the Montagne d'Alaric
The dolmen was ‘found’ in 1956 by a sixteen-year-old, Régis Aymé of Conihlac-Corbières, the youngest member of S.E.S.A. (la Société d’Etudes Scientifiques de l’Aude) founded in 1889. He is now its longest serving member, 50 years. His discovery, plus others including Les Chambres, caught the attention of an ambitious young archaeologist, Jean Guilaine, who formally searched the site. Guilaine has been, since 1994, professor at the Collège de France where he holds the chair of Civilisations de l’Europe au Néolithique et à l’Âge du Bronze. He is a native of Carcassonne, an expert on the protohistory of southern France, and a member of SESA.
The dolmen appears in no maps, nor in any publication that I have found so far. I am now a member of SESA and have spent some hours searching their library. The full accounts of these excavations is out there I am sure. Thus there is little to go on, apart from my interviews with Régis, and his file of memorabilia, which includes a photo of the excavation team including Jean Guilaine, and his copy of an issue of Cahiers Ligures (Ligurian Notebooks), an in-house SESA publication, in which I believe an account of the find is made.
View S.E. from the limestone cliff known as Le Roc Gris (418 m.) part of La Montagne d’Alaric (600m.) the most prominent and most northern of the Corbières Hills, in the departement de l’Aude. The dolmen is at the foot of the cliff, directly in front of a shallow grotte (cave or rock shelter). It looks across a wide ledge known as le Champ de Roland, and beyond to le chateau St. Pierre, a mediaeval fort. Beyond that, across the ravine is a large grotte called Les Chambres d’Alaric.
This view is from the chevet or headstone, which measures 90cm x 90cm. Along each side are 5 orthostats in diminishing stature: Left – 90w x 90h, 80 x 80, 70 x 70, 60 x 60. Right – 60w x 90h, 70 x 90, 60 x 90, 60 x 60, 40 x 60.
What makes this dolmen unusual is the cave behind it. There is a large boulder to the left, about 1.6m. high blocking the entrance and against which the chevet is set. Inside is evidence of excavations old or new, official or clandestine I can’t tell. Alaric mountain has suffered the depredations of many a gold-hunter. The dalle or slab in front of me is a possible candidate for the dolmen’s missing table, or capstone.
There is a second dalle to the side and half-buried in soil and rubble: two such would be needed to cover the dolmen’s length of 4 metres.
About fifty paces east is an aven or pothole opening in the cliff-face. This aven or diaclase is just wide enough to enter, and the slope downwards of 45 degrees is just gentle enough for me to imagine going further in. The co-incidence of grottes, avens, and dolmens is frequent enough in Languedoc for me to think there is purposeful connection. My research online and in the library of SESA seem to point to a developmental progression in protohistoric funerary rites, leading subsequently to the adoption of incineration around the beginning of the Iron Age.
You can see a Youtube video about this dolmen, then information about other dolmens in our region, by clicking here
Our secretary Val Wineyard is a member of SESA and its bulletins are available to read in our library.
She has met Régis Aymé through the Association Via Aquitana, see her blog on this Association; http://viaaquitana.blog4ever.com