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Love's labours lost and found

24 May 2008

Thomes, Mottorro, Lotoni and Monte 'E s'Ape

At last, a fast road! The S131 is a delight – dual carriageway, nice and fast with few vehicles to impede progress. And so we turned south to find Thomes. It's well signposted from the S131 towards Dorgali.

S'Ena 'e Thomes — Fieldnotes

Walking through bushveldt on a sandy track from the car park we could hear the tinkle of bells from a herd of goats grazing near the tomba.

The monument is wonderful with an intact covered grave corridor running out behind and lots of nice slabs forming the forecourt. I was intrigued by the stele – cut in the classic way but with wonky asymmetry in the top arch. The cat flap is less archy than others I'd seen, and more squared off – but that wonkiness at the top was also reflected in the shape of the aperture – leaning slightly left. A New Labour construction perhaps I wondered as I sat and sketched it and a party of German tourists filed past.

S'Ena 'e Thomes — Images

<b>S'Ena 'e Thomes</b>Posted by Jane<b>S'Ena 'e Thomes</b>Posted by Jane<b>S'Ena 'e Thomes</b>Posted by Jane

Here's one of the many multicoloured day-glo lizards we saw at Thomes, and indeed across the island:

We headed off to see the Motorra dolmen further up the road, but we hiked way too far up the stoney track and I had accidentally left Sals' careful and detailed instructions in the car. I gave up and went back to sit in the car – the uneven narrow path and caterpillars hanging from the trees made it too dangerous for me to try again. But Moth braved it back up the path with Sals' instructions in hand and eventually found it.

There are some show-site nuraghic settlements around here with cafes and ticket booths, but frankly we weren't that inspired by nuraghes, it was tombi we wanted to find!

Lotoni — Fieldnotes

As we'd exited the S131 on our way to Thomes earlier, I'd seen a single forlorn sign to Lotoni tombi di giganti, but hadn't seen any other signs. Typical. When I mentioned it to Moth, he said he'd found some information on Lotoni, but it was sketchy and in a bad comedy English translation from Google. Lotoni is pictured on page 440 of TME, but that naughty Julian Cope gives no instructions on how to find it. We only knew roughly where it was. So we headed roughly in that direction. And found it!

Someone at one time had once given a toss about this site, there was the remnant of an information board, but the toss had been taken back. It was in a very sorry state. Overgrown, horribly overgrown, and now fenced in with barbed wire, a wooden pallet and some dry thorny branches leaning up against the place which obviously used to be the way in. So I tore down this rudimentary barrier, stomped a hole big enough to squeeze through the rusty barbed wire and waded in through the tangled low bushes. And to show that someone does care and did visit, I spent a moment stomping down tall weeds in the forecourt by the stele.

Like Pascaredda, Lotoni's stele lacks an upper arch and has a very low cat flap, too small for even a toddler to crawl through. But even lacking these features this is a good tomba – good for surviving in the face of this cruel neglect, good for its stones are still up – and big, too! Despite the feeling that Lotoni is forgotten, even trespassing on its own property, I liked it here.

So close to its show-site and glamorous neighbour just up the road, Thomes, it is very sad to think that this labour of love by its builders could be so badly neglected.

Lotoni — Images

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On our way back to our apartment we stopped en route by Olbia airport to find Su Monte 'E s'Ape, another tomba di giganti.

Su Monte 'e s'Ape — Fieldnotes

Despite having both Julian's and Sals' instructions on how to find it, we drove round in circles for some time, unable to find the right road, but knowing we were close. I was on the point of giving up but Moth wanted one final push trying to find it from Loiri. Eventually, we did find the lane signposted by a hilltop castle.

It's almost the most remarkable monument on the island but lacks its stele which was stolen in the early 20th century for a garden ornament and is now lost. With a 28' chamber and hugely wide forecourt lined with an original low seating area directly in front of the forecourt stones it feels very theatrical – like a stage- and hints at the way people might have used the space. Perhaps participants in the forecourt ceremonies sat around within the space rather than watching from the outside.

I liked the way the airport was so close – you know, ancient and modern… I liked seeing the planes landing and taking off through the space between the stones where the enormous stele should be. And there's no doubt that the stele would have been enormous, my guess is at least 12' tall if it was in proportion with the rest of the site.

Su Monte 'e s'Ape — Images

<b>Su Monte 'e s'Ape</b>Posted by Jane<b>Su Monte 'e s'Ape</b>Posted by Jane<b>Su Monte 'e s'Ape</b>Posted by Jane
Jane Posted by Jane
1st June 2008ce
Edited 2nd June 2008ce

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