I dont know how many English researchers are aware of the work of French researcher Jean Alain Sipra. For many years he has talked about the remains of a mausoleum that he thinks is at the bottom of the hill of Rennes le-Château . Recently he commissioned a model to be made of this mausoleum and you can view it HERE.
The remains of the outline of the building he obtained from aerial photographs.
After discussing with a fellow researcher the exact location, she supplied some Google maps that orientated it better. I did not realise it was so close to the fountain of Elizabeth Van Buren fame. They are shown below.
As we know archaeological features may be more visible from the air than on the ground. In temperate Europe, aerial reconnaissance is one of the important ways in which new archaeological sites are discovered. Tiny differences in ground conditions caused by buried features can be emphasised by a number of factors and then viewed from the air. For example slight differences in ground levels will cast shadows when the sun is low and these can be seen best from an aeroplane. These are referred to as 'shadow marks'. Buried ditches will hold more water and buried walls will hold less water than undisturbed ground, this phenomenon, amongst others, causes crops to grow better or worse, taller or shorter, over each kind of ground and therefore define buried features which are apparent as tonal or colour differences. Such effects are called crop marks. Slight differences in soil colour between natural deposits and archaeological ones can also often show in ploughed fields as soil marks. Differences in levels and buried features will also affect the way surface water behaves across a site and can produce a striking effect after heavy rain [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aerial_archaeology]
I am not sure what local conditions pertained when the 1980 aerial photo was taken of the 'site'. I dont know if the field was ever used for crop growing. If it was we would expect sights such as this:
Shadow marks are a form of archaeological feature visible from the air. Unlike cropmarks they require upstanding features to work and are therefore more commonly seen in the context of extant sites rather than previously undiscovered buried ones. They are caused by the differences in height on the ground produced by archaeological remains. In the case of ancient, eroded earthworks these differences are often small and they are most apparent when viewed from the air, when the sun is low in the sky. This causes long shadows to be cast by the higher features, which are illuminated from one side by the sun, with dark shadows marking hollows and depressions. Shadow marks are best viewed obliquely rather than from directly above in order to emphasise the effect of the shadows. [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shadow_marks].
I think i remember reading that Sipra reported he was working with an archaeological team. I presume they would have done some further investigation such as a field survey, GPR, magnetometery and electrical resistivity testing. I do not know what these results showed up.
Would we find a mausoleum at the bottom of the hill of Rennes-le-Chateau? Would it be in complete isolation? I know some feel the ancient village of Rennes-le-Chateau was spread out far and wide over the countryside. The problem with that is that there is no evidence of this occupation 'far and wide'. It does not turn up the evidence, for example, that Rennes-les-Bains turns up for Roman occupation.
I guess we will have to 'watch this space' as they say.
Many thanks to Tina for supplying the pictures!
Welcome to the blog of Rhedesium
My name is Sandy Hamblett, inspired and passionate researcher of the mysteries at Rennes-les-Bains.