The Modern Antiquarian. Stone Circles, Ancient Sites, Neolithic Monuments, Ancient Monuments, Prehistoric Sites, Megalithic MysteriesThe Modern Antiquarian

Arles-Fontvieille Group



La Crau is a flat plain to the east of Arles, a landscape much beloved of Vincent van Gogh: rich farmland criss-crossed by canals, farmtracks and a railway line. To the north east are the Alpilles, a chain of limestone mountains, rich in bauxite. The first mountain is the Mont de Cordes which rises solitary from the plain and was once an island, and it's overlooked by another limestone ridge of Montmajour, on which was built a huge ugly fortress of an abbey, which dominates the view. The area is not only significant for me from a Vincent van Gogh point of view, but also because it holds a number of important, secret, prehistoric sites. As we were to discover many of these were 'acces interdit'.

There are five monuments in the so-called Arles-Fontvieille group (because they lie beteen Arles and Fontvieille): the grotte des Fees on the Mont de Cordes, the grotte de Bounias, the grotte de la source, the dolmen de Coutignargues and the grotte du Castelets. They are variously referred to as grottes, hypogees or dolmens in the various literature I can find (which isn't much).

However, in what literature I can find, this seems to be a very important group of monuments which has been largely forgotten.

Glyn Daniel calls them 'among the largest and most impressive chamber tombs in France' which have yielded grave goods of 'a rich a very important character'.
Jane Posted by Jane
21st September 2007ce
Edited 21st September 2007ce

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