Monday, April 14, 2008

Dolmen at St Alban-Auriolles

X's mother is from St Alban-Auriolles - a little village by the Ardeche river further south of us. Last Sunday we all went there cos she has a house there & wanted to check on it and I wanted to see the dolmen.

A dolmen is an ancient tomb shaped like a table - the name orginating from taol maen which means stone table in Breton. Dolmens can be found all over the world - even as far as Korea. There are many scattered in Ardeche but I've not seen any so I was keen to check out the one in St Alban-Auriolles.

As we drive there, you can already see that the area is littered with limestones. It's interesting to see how the houses are built around them. After we checked on her house, which by the way, she's selling if anyone's interested, we made our way to the dolmen. It is located up a hill not far from the village.

It is scenic walk albeit a little rocky because of the limestones. At the top of the hill, overlooking the Chassezac valley, is an old Chapel & a little further, the Dolmen du Calvaire.

The Dolmen du Calvaire is a classic dolmen with one chamber & shaped like, surprise, a table. It was looted a long time ago & cleared of any archaelogical content. As a result, we don't know the exact date of erection nor the number of deceased buried beneath. It was listed as an ancient monument way back in 1889.

Then we took a small stroll to the river, walking past fields of peach trees. It is still too cold to swim but apparently in the summer, it's a very popular spot. It's too pebble-ly for my liking but the water looks beautiful & shallow enough for children to play.

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