|12 September 2007
...the one that nearly got away...
We'd searched for all five of the Arles-Fontvielle tombs (also known as hypogees or grottes) around Le Crau and the Mont de Cordes a few days before and found three of the five, so we were pretty pleased with ourselves.
One evening I thought I'd have a look at a book by Glyn Daniel, 'The Prehistoric chamber tombs of France' which Spaceship Mark had lent us, to see what it said about them. This 1960 tome revealed we had missed a possible sitter!
Scouring our very large scale map of Arles again, I noticed that the grotte we'd missed –La Grotte de la Source- wasn't marked, all the others were, including the gargantuan and inaccessible Grotte des Fees. We had to check it out.
So we returned to the Restaurant de la Mont Cordes to ask about it. First I explained we'd seen the Grotte de Bounias and wondered if they know about the Grotte de la Source.
"Oh yes, it's very easy to find" she said, "it's over on the right by the biggest olive tree." We also spoke to her about trying to find our way up to the Grotte des Fees, pointing to it on the map.
"Oh la la" elle dit, "you were looking for this the other day."
How she knew this I'm not sure, but I guess the bush telegraph is pretty reliable in this tiny community when a GB registered car cruises about.
She continued: "you mustn't go to Cordes, it's a very dangerous place up there with many wild animals and tauros, and sometimes men with guns."
No wonder we encountered such a tangle of barbed wire! It seems that the awesome Grotte des Fees is well and truly off-limits.
This is a disaster; for the Grotte des Fees is a unique design in the known pantheon of prehistoric archeology. It's a very early rock-cut tomb, 120 feet long and 12 feet tall, with two rock-cut side chambers and two interior chambers along it's length; the roof is also rock-cut. It has a porch with kennel hole entrance and rock-cut steps leading down into the whole shebang.
We'd have to be content with the Grotte de la Source.
We found it easily, quite close to the road (D17) near the Restaurant de la Mont de Cordes and it is quite lovely.
It is very similar in design and construction to Arnaud-Castellets and Bounias, with rock-cut steps into the large chamber – but larger. Outside, a section of a rock cut ditch to the north west of grotte, which once surrounded the whole tump can still be seen.
The Grotte des Fees will have to be the one that well and truly got away.
Posted by Jane
21st September 2007ce
Edited 28th November 2009ce
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