This monograph was written by Dr Paul Courrent and published in an issue of the Bulletin de la Société d’Etudes Scientifique de l’Aude. The monograph is fascinating for the insight it gives into the local archaeological discoveries made over several hundred years ago and the fact that many of these discoveries were 'looked after' by the Fleury family of the time. We know that the Fleury's played an important role in the Rennes Affair and it may suggests that some of the finds made were given to the Fleury presumably because it was on their land.
In this Notice Courrent discusses information available at the time which reveals the antiquity of Rennes-les-Bains. He talks of an 'opus' written by the priest Delmas and about other amateur historians and their finds. In his discussions we can see the root of most of the information that Chérisey later used in his pamphlet called ''In the Country of the White Queen'. We must assume that Henri Boudet was also aware of the archaeological discoveries because 1) he found several artifacts which he gave to his friends and Courrent actually refers to them in this article and 2) in his book La Vrai Langue Celtique he has a chapter called "LES ROMAINS ET LA SOURCE THERMALE DE LA REINE". In this chapter he writes:
"The southern countries of the Redones had long been part of the Province, and the Romans had built a temple in the valley of the Sals, and baths at the source de la Reine. A new village was built on the plateau of Villanova, overlooking the spa's north-east side. The Romans left many traces of their extended stay in the Cromleck, medals and coins of gold, silver and bronze, from the triumvirate of Antony, Octavian and Lepidus, until the reign of the Emperor Gratian, whole amphorae, broken statues carved in white marble, capitals and bases of columns and carved inscriptions in stone".
We will see that Boudet did not just pluck out of the sky the idea that the Romans built a Temple in the valley of the Sals. He based it on local archaeology and opinion. For these amateur historians it is safe to assume that they regarded Rennes-les-Bains a major Roman village and in my view, from the evidence, it is this village [out of the two Rennes] that is the more important. Courrent discusses just this point! He begins by telling us that '...the origin of RENNES is lost in the mists of time. It goes back at least to Roman times and perhaps even further. G. CATEL in 1633 in his memoirs on the history of the Languedoc, gives the first known original document on the town, and important details about its situation and the use of its thermal waters. After the Baings de Balaruc, comes the BAINGS de Rennes in the diocese of Alet not far from the town of Limoux'.
This Catel cited also makes reference to a Roman inscription on a 'pedestal' possibly found near a fountain source at Rennes-les-Bains which reads: C. POMPEIVS QVARTVS I. A. M. svo. Interestingly, this may be the basis on which Boudet chose to title the last chapter of his book which was noted above. It seems Catel is referring to a 'stone' that was originally found in the ancient ruins of a 'source' - which would correlate with Boudet's idea of the baths and a Temple being built near the Source de la Rennes (Reine!). Delmas, who had been a much earlier priest serving at Montferrand [which was commonly called Bains de Rennes], wrote in 1709 a list of important discoveries of pottery and Roman coins found near the thermal springs of Rennes-les-Bains.
Courrent discussed the Pompeius stone, saying that: "M. Catel, conseiller au Parlement de Toulouse, dans « son livre des Antiquités de Languedoc, en fait mention « et il dit qu'on y a trouvé deus ïdolles, une de Jupiter « et une autre de Mercure. Il y a aussi une pierre dont , « l'inscription marque son entiquité. Il rapporte cette « inscription, mais ne l'explique pas. Le curé qui est « aprésent aux Bains l'a dans son cabinet; elle est tin « pied destal. Il y a en haut C... tout le long POMPEIVS QVÀRTVS au-dessous il y a LAM et bas SVO, Au derrière de la pierre, il y à un laurier".
An interpretation given by Delmas is that this sepulchre inscription is for Gnaeus Pompeius Quartus, the father of Pompey, Pompey Strabo, who erected the monument, during his visit - to "this wicked country" - when he was on his way to Spain. We must admit that this is only a hypothesis. Delmas also reports that 'when you dig in certain places there [i.e. at Rennes-les-Bains] there are a lot of all kinds of gold, silver, bronze, more ancient than I knows and unable to be deciphered. I found a large amount of "money with neither letter nor figure," as well as a large amount of medals of Roman Emperors, dated to the time of the Republic and even earlier. What is certain is that the Romans founded and embellished throughout this country. In fact the first colony they established in Gaul was in the country of the Volques TECTOSAGES in which this country is enclosed as it extends to Toulouse'. Delmas goes on to suggest that buildings found at Rennes-les-Bains were originally inlaid with gold and precious stones.
Dr Courrent reports on a letter by Du Mege [a scholar, French archaeologist and historian, who in his youth, traveled the Pyrenees in search of sculptures, altars, and other antiques of the Volques Tectosages. He was co-founder in 1832 of the Archaeological Society of the South of France. He was a correspondent of the Academy of Inscriptions and Belles-Lettres and is the origin of the archaeological collections of Toulouse] to M. Urbain de fleury, in which it is described that a MM. CARBON and MONTÉGUIY - who were advisers to the Parliament of Toulouse - visited Rennes-les-Bains and reported finds that they described as 'a large amount of medals that were the ornament of their Cabinets'! More than four hundred medals in gold, silver and bronze were also collected in Rennes by abbé BERTRAND. Also found at the Fontaine du Cercle was a basin and some Gallo-Roman capitals. SAGE, in a paper read at the Academy of Sciences of Toulouse in 1746 reported [in the office of the late President CAULET] a "remarkable antique", an object that was held by the priest Delmas. It was a sepulchral lamp which the Romans used. " This somehow conjures up images of Delmas already accessing some kind of dark sepulchre from whence he found this mysterious lamp!
There are still existing at RENNES, in the wall of the hotel de la Reine - inlaid since 1932 :
1 Two pieces carved in stone. Capitals or bases of columns belonging to temples or buildings of
2 A beautiful antique urn medium size (10 liters), wide neck, with the body 'Trenflé without handle, mounted on a tripod. Under the rim flange opening, a frieze with bay leaves.
These items were discovered in excavations at Rennes-les-Bains from objects which once adorned the fountain Cercle.
Courrent also makes mention of an antique head that could [presumably when he was alive] still be seen embedded in the wall of the presbytery of the local church, facing the garden, an elegant 'head' represented by Figure 1 of Plate I of the monograph board borrowed from the work of Dr. Gourdon. One assumes that if Courrent saw the 'real' head insitu he would have mentioned if the head did not look like the diagram drawn by Gourdon. I mention this because the 'head' causes much controversy in the history of Rennes-les-Bains! The confusion is between two heads with quite different profiles. Henri Boudet refers to one found at Cap de l'homme which "was on the edge of the cap dé l'Hommé on the top of a Menhir, opposite the pagan temple, converted into a Christian church later destroyed by fire, [where] was carved a beautiful head of the Saviour looking over the valley, over all the dominant Celtic monuments which had lost their teachings". (see HERE)
Rather bizarrely these items mentioned and drawn by Gourdon seem to all be associated with the Fleury family. Courrent reports:
"Paul Urbain de Fleury and his son Henri had created a small local museum with the discoveries found at Rennes at different times but especially at the beginning of the eighteenth century, they have long been kept in the cabinet of the Fleury's. They include:
1 fragments of brick and tile edge which are Gallo-Roman;
2 A beautiful white cornice fragment of marble - an ornament plate 45 mm"
There are also remains of statues, artistically made including i) a complete arm with a hand holding an egg, white Marble, 0.60 centimetres ii) an arm holding a snake wrapped in a patôre, white marble, iii) a hand gripping a cloth/linen, marble. The latter should be compared to an ornate hand with rings also holding a piece of cloth, of which other examples have been found in the ruins of a temple on the Seine. Marius CATHALA the learned archaeologist and paleontologist, former president of the Society for Scientific Studies of the Aude, personally believed in the existence of the statue to which the hand with the egg belonged. There was even found evidence for this statue in the hotel de la Reine. It was in the middle of an outdoor courtyard, where surveys which had been performed led to the origin of the marble dust believed to be associated with the statue. The hotel is also built on very old substructures. Repairs carried out to a house [near the Hotel?] in 1928, showed "large block foundations" that Mr. ROUZAUD, former president of the Archaeological Survey of Narbonne, attributed to ancient Roman buildings, temples and palaces.
It would be these suggestions that gave Cherisey the idea of manipulating the information and turning this white marble statue into one of a statue of Isis - where Isis has not been suggested at all. But we know we are talking about the right statue because Cherisey mentions the white dust, and the hotel and the courtyard [so he categorically knew where the statue was found but still chose to add a mysterious layer to the actual finds]. This is found in the Priory document, In the Country of the White Queen [see picture below]. You can read the whole document HERE.
Also, in 1799, when repairs to the source of the Reine were being carried out, a stone arch was found, collapsed in a pool - 16 feet long and 12 wide, where the bottom was paved with white marble and surrounded by a hard black shale and a beautiful polish. This vault was destroyed during the construction of the hotel de la Reine. There at the entrance area of Rennes, a little, to the south of the spa station, a piece of land labelled Section B on the cadastral map of the town of Rennes, in which, after recent plowing, it was possible to collect fragments of pottery and vases of red clay of all forms, and to which all have the characteristics of Gallo-Roman pottery. A little below the baths of Rennes, on the right bank of the Sals, there was discovered the ruins of an old house with mosaic pavements, shards of old pottery and tile's. Collected from the slope [hill?] opposite the Hotel des Bains de la Reine, shards of pottery of various forms of crockery, glass perfume bottles, fragments of plaster of apartments, bones of edible animals, oyster shells and other shells. It is in this place that Louis PECH of Narbonne in 1844 guessed the location of a Roman house (left bank of Sals, at the upper entrance to the park). In the ruins of the house, crushed by a boulder, were further bricks, broken glass, animal bones, oyster shells of the Mediterranean, ancient manufacturing nails, a piece of thick greenish glass, similar to glass removed from the excavations of Pompei.
All this evidence and conjecture surely lit the imaginations of those interested in the enigma of Rennes-le-Chateau. But it seems that the 'treasures' of Rennes-les-Bains, known to the Fleury family [who figure importantly in all the engima and who married into the Hautpoul-Blanchefort family] are just as important in the secret of Rennes-le-Chateau! For images of some of the items found (although not the striking finds such as the statues and coins etc, where are they?) see HERE.
Below is the Dr Courrent document in its original form.