What is a legend? 

It is commonly described as a nonhistorical or unverifiable story handed down by tradition from earlier times and popularly accepted as historical. 

On this basis there are undeniably many legends attached to Rennes-les-Bains. But these web of legends make it very difficult to untie what seems to be the only really important legend attached to Rennes! 

If one follows the history recorded first by the locals - we can then follow to the site where all important legend appear to be radiating from.

To start from the beginning, or at least as far back as I can go at this time. 

Read this very interesting timeline;

October 9th 1644  -   a priest of Rennes-les-Bains, Antoine Delmas born
23/11/1644 - the [in]famous testament of Francois Pierre d'Hautpoul is registered by the notary of Esperaza, Captier.
1646 - Blaise Hautpoul, son of Francois, has the church at Rennes-le-Chateau restored and in this endeavour is helped by Nicolas Pavillon, Bishop of Alet.
November 1661 - Blaise Hautpoul goes to court against Nicolas Pavillon, bishop of Alet, to prevent King Louis XIVth troops searching and trampling over his lands and mines at Rennes-les-Bains. Blaise's lands and possessions include Rennes [-le-Chateau], St Just, Le Bezu, les Bains (Rennes-les-Bains), Montferrand, Montazels and La Val Dieu. This long and complex trial will end in Grenoble in April 1666 to the advantage of Nicolas Pavillon, but [only] after the King breaks the judgments in favour of the bishop. This historical fact deserves to be noted as Louis XIVth and Nicolas Pavillon were particularly opposed to each other [He was one of the four bishops who refused to sign the formulary imposed by Pope Alexander VII, on the plea that the pope cannot pronounce on facts but only on rights. When Louis XIV commanded submission to the papal order, Pavillon in Lettre au roi" (1664) declined to recognise his interference]. Why then give a judgment in favour of his opponent?
December 1669  -  Antoine Delmas ordained a priest by Nicolas Pavillon
November 1672   - Antone Delmas becomes priest at Rennes-les-Bains
1678 - Louis XIVth's treasurer, Colbert, creates a mining company to prospect on the land of the Hautpouls.
1685 - Louis XIVth buys Poussin's 'Shepherds of Arcadia' from one CA Herault.
1709 - Antoine Delmas publishes his manuscript on Rennes-les-Bains and the Great Roman.
1832 - Auguste de Labouïsse-Rochefort publishes his book Voyage à Rennes-les-Bains, but possibly first written in 1803 - and mentions ‘The Legend of the Devil’s Treasure’. Labouïsse-Rochefort himself was admitted to an Arcadian Academy in 1832, commenting on the event thus: "A Shepherd of Arcady by the gentle inclination of my heart, I could not help but want to be a member of this illustrious Arcadian Academy".  He even referred to the land around Rennes-les-Bains as like Arcadia. Auguste de Labouïsse-Rochefort added [in regards to the legend of the Devils Treasure]  - "The annoying thing about this affair was that M. de Fleury, then Lord of the villages of Montferrand, Bains, Rennes, as well as the ruins of Blanchefort, wanted to bring an action against them for having attempted to violate his lands…", a later legend which echos suspiciously the trial of Blaise Hautpoul and Nicolas Pavillon some 200 years earlier about searchers trampling over his lands and mines!

The French researcher Stephanie Buttegeg said that after surveying extensive evidence which included unpublished historical documents, the archives from Colbert, the archives of the miner Dubosc, private letters of the Fleury family, and the Plantard archives along with the works of Boudet she had to conclude that:

"Everything suggests that there is a dark secret lurking in the bowels of Rennes-les-Bains! But is it a simple gold mineral deposit, a former monetary deposit or a sacred or historical treasure of an ancient temple? To discover this all [we need to do] is go back in to the history of mining in this country ... Whether in ancient times, the Middle Ages, the 18th or the 19th century, the mining of Baings de Regnes appears recurrently! Marie de Negre d'Ables and the Comte de Fleury jealously guarded these mines and Boudet seemed to attach paramount importance to them and more recently Pierre Plantard even talked of an ancient Celtic temple! Through unpublished historical records, we will try to shed light on this mystery, where ancient legends and realities mingle! "(Stephanie Buttegeg). 

Buttegeg says that the importance attached by some families and priests to a particular mine, to be specific a copper mine near Roc Negre, makes it certain that something important is [or at least was] buried there in the minds of these people. The origin of the rumours and legends surrounding 'a treasure at Blanchefort' emanate from these particular family archives - this makes it very difficult to know whether there is any substance to the legends themselves! 

But clearly some people thought there was.

If you follow the Thread of Rennes you can eventually pinpoint where this Temple is. 

And it seems the Temple Rond is not the important one for Plantard et al and the Priory. And whatever else the copper mine near Roc Negre symbolised, the Temple is a much more concrete reality, as we shall see. 

Blaise d'Hautpoul

So we have the continued interest and obsessive behaviour of clergy and government officials trying to get access to the lands and mines of the Hautpoul family, local to the area of the Two Rennes. The two main Hautpoul family members in this respect are Henri Hautpoul,Francois Pierre d'Hautpoul and his son Blaise Hautpoul. People included in this obsessive behaviour were Nicolas Pavillon, Bishop of Alet and Colbert [and in the case of Colbert the suggestion must be that King Louis XIVth was too]. 

Blaise Hautpoul is a very special case. Just after the year 1645 there was supposed to have been a discovery of a fabulous treasure on his lands. Remember this was around the time Pavilon, Bishop of Alet had helped him restore the church at Rennes-le-Chateau. Twenty years later they are at court as adversaries. Why? 

There are two versions of the treasure at Rennes.

The first was discovered by a shepherd called Ignace Paris. Paris had lost one of his sheep. When he saw that it had disappeared, he decided to go looking for it and thanks to the bleating of the animal, he spotted it in the bottom of a hole. He cautiously descended into the hole and found himself in a cave. The animal was there but so too were many skeletons and then the shepherd noticed that the ground was covered with gold. Paris, without hesitation, filled his pockets, his wallet and his beret and immediately went to tell his story to the villagers. After many questions, he refused to reveal the location of his find, and the people were perplexed by this story of rapid fortune, and they, believing he had done some trading with the devil, stoned him. The treasure of Paris remained buried deep in a crevice. Henry Hautpoul, eager to know where the treasure was buried - had the shepherd tortured to answer questions about the find but the shepherd died of his torture/injuries without revealing his secret. 

The second version has it that a shepherdess surprised the Devil one day when he was counting out his gold coins. By the time the villagers were called to see the spectacle the devil and the treasure had disappeared. The farmers appealed to a sorcerer in Limoux to enter into a relationship with Satan to recover the treasure, which was accepted only on the condition that he be assisted by his countrymen, but the 'sorcerer' could not count on their support because they fled frightened, after hearing the noise made by the demon. The treasure was abandoned.

This is somehow also linked with another legend viz; that in a memoire of Antoine Bigou, Cure of Rennes, dated 11th February 1781 (a month after the death of Marie de Negre d’Ables) and which was certified by Abbe Francois-Pierre Cauneille, Cure of Rennes les Bains, it is in the document 'authenticated that there was a discovery of the tomb of Constant I, by a young shepherdess of Bains, Catherine Planel, of the smallholding of Favies'. 

It is this discovery which is the origin of the legend of the treasure of Blanchefort, which was reported by M. de Labouisse-Rochefort in his 'Voyage a Rennes-les-Bains'. (Paris 1832). Bigou is alleged to have patiently questioned the shepherdess - and from her directions was able to find the place of this tomb burial. Here it is described that ‘our Abbè's' [i.e. Bigou and Cauneille] had found the treasure of the Aniorts, namely the treasure of Alaric, hidden in the Valley of the Aude, after the fall of the Kingdom of Toulouse.

The author states - 'we think he [Constant I] was captured and assassinated at Coustaussa, because the most ancient name known of this village was Villa quae vocatur Constantium' (villa which is called Constantium).... also ...the second sign is the very ancient marble quarry situated 200 metres to the north of Peyro Dreto, the druidic stone of Pontils, in the commune of Peyrolles. From the dimensions of some of the blocks extracted, still visible today, we can deduce that these blocks were destined for a very important monument, and more, to be situated in the immediate area.'

So we have several legends concerning the Hautpoul family, specifically Blaise Hautpoul and Henry Hautpoul, father and son respectively. One revolves around Blanchefort and Rennes-les-Bains and a shepherdess, the other a shepherd and Rennes-le-Chateau. Interestingly it seems that Henry Hautpoul, according to the legend, did not know where the treasure was buried. 

What is interesting is that the legend of the shepherdess, Catherine PLANEL, and her treasure at Rennes-les-Bains is the one De Sede dates to at least 1767, when the Fleury family first arrived at Rennes-les-Bains. Cherisey places the legend in a geographical aspect in his alleged manuscript Stone & Paper. For him the legend of the shepherdess describes her seeing the Devil spread the treasure in the sun where - 'the entire beautiful hill was lit by it'. This particular 'beautiful hill' is known in the local literature as the 'bonne colline' and refers to Mont Serbairou. [Interestingly, de Sede reports part of this legend, saying that the wizard managed to get hold of  'one string of his [the Devil's] moneybag'. One wonders if Sauniere depicted this money bag -strings as well, in his Fleury Tableau towards the entrance of his church - [see photo below];

Auguste de Labouïsse-Rochefort added [in regards to the legend of the Devils Treasure]  "The annoying thing about this affair was that M. de Fleury, then Lord of the villages of Montferrand, Bains, Rennes, as well as the ruins of Blanchefort, wanted to bring an action against them for having attempted to violate his lands…" which echos suspiciously the trial of Blaise Hautpoul and Nicolas Pavillon some 200 years earlier! In regards to the court conflict between Pavillon and Blaise Cherisey wrote that;

"The BEAUSOLEIL couple managed to persuade Louis XIV that there was a gold depot dépôt in ROCKO-NEGRO near Rennes-les-Bains, where stood the ruins of the famous Blanchefort castle belonging to Blaise I d’HAUPOUL. Nothing should have allowed the Royal power to dig up someone else's property. By chance, however, Blaise d’Haupoul had asked to reclaim the title of marquis de Blanchefort. Everything was set to proceed quickly on one side and very slowly on the other. In 1644, owing to Colbert's efforts, a team of German or Scandinavian miners landed at Rocko-Negro and started digging long tunnels which are still visible today. These workers spoke a language unknown to the occitans and lived in camps on the spot: discretion was thus assured.

Meanwhile, Blaise d’Haupoul is informed that all is well regarding the marquisat of Blanchefort, but that he is discretely dispossessed of Rocko-Negro where stands the BLANCHEFORT castle. On January 4th 1669, the Haupouls are made Marquis de Blanchefort. The trick had been to baptise "château de Blanchefort" a mere pillbox measuring 2 by 3 m. at the top of a rock bearing the name Coume les Bains. The gold mining failed in 1667 and the miners decamped. In 1698, Abbé André-Hercule de Fleury, aged 46 and aumônier to the Queen, is offered Rocko-Negro with its mines and, as a bonus, the Bishopric of Fréjus. He will also become tutor to the future Louis XV and will thereafter be appointed Cardinal. His Eminence dies in 1743 and bequeathes all his estate to his sister Marie, wife of Bernardin de ROSSET, who receives the title of Duc de Fleury, as well as the land of Rocko-Negro. There is thus still hope of reopening the antique gold mines. Through a deed signed in Limoux on June 1st 1750, André-Hercule de Rosset, duc de Fleury, Pair of France, lieutenant-general in the King's army, governor of the city and citadel of STENAY, lieutenant-general of Lorraine and Barrois, seneschal of Limoux and Carcassonne, passed on to Jean XVIII des PLANTARD this famous Rocko-Negro. This famous Jean Plantard, it must be said, had married his niece, Madeleine de Rosset.

At the Révolution, through a deed signed in Limoux on February 6th 1792, the Plantards sell to the FLAMANDs the right to exploit the lands of ROC-NEGRE. Through another deed signed in Limoux on January 26th 1967, Pierre PLANTARD, buys back his property. In 1767, Gabrielle de Haupoul-Blanchefort marries Marquis Paul-Vincent de Fleury - just a homonym of Fleury, the Duke- who, through his wife, will come into possession of Bains de Rennes and Montferrand. So, the names of Stenay and Rennes are once more joined together through the Duke of FLEURY."

In MATHIEU PAOLI's 'LES DESSOUS D'UNE AMBITION POLITIQUE' [1973 publication] it says on page 37 the following (in relation to Paul Francois - Vincent de Fleury):

'the nobility dictionary indicates that the family of the Fleury is a Languedocian familly, with obscure precise origins. In the Spainish archives, it is mentioned that a Fleury, was a commander of the Order of the Temple at Carcassonne, at the beginning of the 14th century'

This Fleury family which is listed in the ' L’Armorial de Languedoc' has Paul-François-Vincent's grandmother as Marguerite de Rosset; she was the daughter of Bernardin de Rosset and Marie de Fleury, the sister of Cardinal Fleury. So although the two Fleury families have different origins, they're related because there was a union between them by marriage. Paul-François-Vincent was thus indeed the great-grandnephew of Cardinal Fleury - not via his Grandfather Fleury, but rather through his Grandmother Rosset!

The M. de Fleury mentioned by Auguste de Labouïsse-Rochefort who was the then Lord of the villages of Montferrand, Bains, Rennes, as well as the ruins of Blanchefort, at the time of his Devil Treasure story certainly married one of the descendants of Henry and Blaise Hautpoul - and he faced the same issues of people searching and pillaging his lands as his antecedents did!

Later, Paul Urbain de Fleury, son of Paul François Vincent Fleury and Gabrielle Hautpoul Blanchefort bought the castle at Rennes abandoned by Gabrielle's aunt, Mary. He also, rather strangely, has two graves in the cemetery at Rennes-les-Bains.


The Fleury's, as we saw above, came to Rennes in 1767 and were important local lords of the area of Rennes-le-Chateau and Rennes-les-Bains. A famous Fleury intimately linked to the 'mystery' for example is the above cited Paul Urbain de Fleury, who is said to have donated a mysterious painting of Christ to the church at Rennes-les-Bains. The Fleury's also married into the Blanchefort/Hautpoul family .... Paul-François-Vincent de Fleury, married on 13th sept. 1767 Marie-Anne-Gabrielle-Élisabeth d’Hautpoul, daughter of François d’Hautpoul,  baron de Rennes-les-Bains, Sgr de Montferrand, Bézis, marquis de Blanchefort. Her mother was the famous Marie de NEGRI d'ABLES [who's famous tombstone is central to the legends at Rennes-le-Chateau]. 

The many visits to the baths of Rennes by Marie Dupuy [wife of Henry de Hautpoul] who's mother was one Anne DELSOL, indicates that the Hautpoul family were very knowledgeable about the facts concerning Rennes-les-Bains. The family of Hautpoul made use of the spa at Rennes and it was sufficiently important [for them] to make Francis Hautpoul stipulate this use, probably old, by his family in the Act of consolidation of the baths. The history of Blaise and his later troubles with the priest of the Baths shows also the real commitment of the Hautpoul to the parish. It also illustrates that the Bains de Rennes had a prominent role in the barony in the XVIIth and XVIIIth century and it continued after the revolutionary events since the De Fleury came back and built up the baths.

One last point seems to be critical about the Baths: when Anne Delsol died in 1705, it says in the Act of death "that she was buried the thirty-first of said month in the Church of this place in the tomb of the Lords which is near the baluster in the presence of the Maître Michel parish priest of St Just and Maître Antoine Delmas curate of the Bains'

The presence of Antoine Delmas at the burial in The tomb of Lords reinforces the close relationship, despite the lack of a road suitable for motor vehicles between the two parishes. If there is a secret it is a common secret that will continue in the territory of the two Rennes.

The mother of Francis d'Haupoul Rennes, the widow Marie Dupuy that we referred to above, lived in 1730 in Aussillon and not at Rennes-le-Chateau - but for some of the year she did take the waters at Rennes-les-Bains. Lady Marie Dupuy Haupoul was living there after the wedding of her son François lord of Blanchefort.

French research has also uncovered the following; the priest of Rennes-les-Bains, Antoine Delmas, came from a family from Caudiès in the Pyrénées Orientales, a family which migrated to the Aude while keeping its strong tie with the Fenouilledes. Born in 1644 at Caudiès, Antoine was born of the union of Jean Delmas (born around 1615) and Anne Pigniol (born en1623). Antoine Delmas was ordained in 1664 by Nicolas Pavillon, and he arrived in Rennes-les-Bains in December 1672 after the cure Grenier (the same one who refused entry to the Church of Bains in 1664 to Blaise Ist). 

But he is not alone in this place as cure. His family who will accompany him. By studying the parish registers, one discovers that his brother Bernard is a merchant in Limoux where he married in October 1671, at the age of 23 years Marie Rommette (born in 1649), daughter of Antoine Rommette (he is also a merchant of Limoux), and Goddaughter of Marc Antoine Dupuy and Anne Delsol. Marie is also related to Pierre Rommette, royal notary of Limoux, who will be present at the baptism of his daughter Mary (who will sponsor Antoine Delmas-the uncle) in 1690. We also learn that Antoine Delmas married his other brother, Francis, [as officiating priest] in January 1683 at Fourtou with Paule Robert. He married also his niece Anne (born of this union, in 1683) at Rennes on 14 November 1701 with Jean-François Baron, merchant of Bugarach son of Jean Baron who appears as a notary and trafficker/dealer in the armorial of Charles of Hozier. Be reminded that Bugarach was important to rally the Razès to the Fenouilledes through Caudiès-Fenouillet including serving Sournia and Rabouillet.

It is not only Antoine Delmas (uncle) who surrounds himself with his brothers (it is likely there were others, perhaps sisters) but also his parents. On 22 April 1700, his father John died at the age of 85, in the presbytery of Rennes-les-Bains as indicated on his death certificate. His mother died on 08 may 1703 at Rennes-les-Bains. Before taking over from his sick uncle in November 1719, Antoine Delmas (nephew) is Rector of Serres Church where he lives with his two sisters Germaine and Anne, who will be married by Antoine Delmas (uncle) at Rennes-les-Bains. Antoine Delmas (uncle) died, at the age of 87, on 20th July 1731 at Rennes-les-Bains and his nephew July 27th, 1737 at the age of 63, at Rennes-les-Bains. It is also noted that Bernard, Antoine's father (nephew) will be also buried at Rennes by François Palauqui on March 26, 1743 at 98 years old.

In the light of all this very factual information, it will be noted that the family Delmas had taken root in the Aude but especially in Rennes-les-Bains where finally 5 members will be buried: Jean Delmas, his wife Anne Pigniol (Antoine's parents, Bernard and Francis), the 2 Antoine's (uncle and nephew) and Bernard. We must say that Antoine Delmas (nephew) becomes a major player on the territory where ancient discoveries of the have been made at Rennes-les-Bains. Perhaps even before Bigou and Palauqui, the Delmas priests, by the links that unite them with the Hautpoul Delsol Dupuy families, reign supreme in the barony of Rennes.

Of course it was this Antoine Delmas family associated with a very famous manuscript, the so called DELMAS manuscript of 1709. This intriguing story stems from the family of Delmas, and in particular the Antoine DELMAS who was ordained priest by Nicholas PAVILON, the bishop of Alet, first friends with Blaise Hautpoul and then twenty years later, after helping Blaise remodel the church at Rennes-le-Chateau found to be fighting in court over the issue of the Kings Troops trying to dig up the area of the two Rennes. 

This famous DELMAS MANUSCRIPT of 1709 constitutes an important piece in the Rennes‑le‑Château dossier. Its interest comes from the very fact that it was written by Antoine Delmas in 1709 when he was parish priest of Rennes-les-Bains and Montferrand. The town was then called "Bains de Monferran" or even "les Bains de Rennes".  In addition, the brother of the father (Bernard Delmas), a merchant in Limoux, married in October 1671 Marie Rommette, a relative of Mr. Rommette, a royal notary of Limoux. And this is where it gets interesting: this notary wrote the deeds for the Hautpoul family. Marie Rommette was born in Limoux on September 20, 1649 and had as we saw godfather and godmother Marc Antoine Dupuy and Anne Delsol. There are therefore undeniable links between the Hautpoul, Delsol (see the tomb of the lords at Rennes-le-Château) and Delmas families. One may well ask if Delmas through his own family connections and also religious connections and archaeological connections - was aware of the same 'secret' pertaining to Rennes-les-Bains as Henri Boudet did? 


The Delmas Manuscript was written by Delmas & published in 1709 - and it showed that he had read William Catel (1560-1626) and his "Memoirs of the history of the Languedoc" [published in 1633]. Catel, well before the arrival of Nicolas Pavillon to Alet, noted the remains preserved in the church of Rennes-les-Bains during his time. This proves the remarkable interest already expressed in Rennes-les-Bains at an early stage - with reports of ancient coins found on the territory of the commune. Catel had also carefully reported an inscription on a cippus white marble stone which was engraved with the name "Pompeius Quartus." Later Antoine Delmas confirmed the presence of this pedestal in his office. 

Delmas provides a summary reconstruction of life in the village during the Roman era, which ends with a very long list of characters portrayed on the ancient coins found in the village. The priest also tries to provide some historical explanation for the presence of medals belonging to a particular Roman legion:

The tenth colony of Romans was once called colonia decniménorum and had been replenished by new men by order of Julius Caesar, who called it Colomnia Sulia Paterna, as evidenced by numerous inscriptions found in Narbonne. The colony which was established at Béziers broke away from the Seventh Legion and was called Colonia Septimanarum. One was also established in Nîmes, detached from the legion that went to Egypt to conquer Mark Antony; that is why the colony and the citadel of Nîmes have a crocodile as a coat of arms. Even those who lived in the Bains detached themselves from this legion, which is why there are more medals of this legion here than of the others.

Among other mentions was the find Catel referred to - a small stone bearing an inscription variously interpreted;

Reported already in the XVII century by Guillaume Catel (1560-1626): It is visible in the church of the place mentioned above, les Bains de Rennes, an ancient Roman inscription, recovered from the ancient foundations near the source, C. POMPEIVS QVARTVS AM SVO.

At the beginning of the eighteenth century Delmas puts forward a complex hypothesis. The acronym would be read as JAM, which would stand for Julio Amico Maximo. Cneius Pompeius Quartus Julio would have been the father of the Great Pompey ;– probably the Roman consul Gneo Pompeo Strabone (150-80 BC); Strabo's father would therefore have erected a funerary monument on his return from an expedition to Spain in honour of a very dear friend of his. This is Delmas' story: 

Pompeius Quartus is the father of the Great Pompey, who was the fifth of this name, as might be proved by the fact that the son was named Pompeius Sextus. He is mentioned in history and was conquered in Sicily by Agrippa, brother-in-law of Augustus. It is customary to explain the inscription as follows: Cneius Pompeius Quartus Amico Julio Inilitis of him or Amico Julio Maximo Suo. It has also been hypothesised that the Great Pompey passed through here while he was on his way to Spain, at the time of Silla, to fight Sertorius. This great prince [Pompey the Great] left, after his death, two children: one named Cneius Pompeius and the other Sextus Pompeius. They were defeated in two naval engagements, one in Sicily and the other in Spain. Pompey, on his way to Spain, passed through this country and had a sort of mausoleum or column erected over the tomb of a great friend or officer who died; this stone was part of the column. It follows that tradition sees it as a sepulchral monument

During the 20th century, the identity of the high-ranking figure, who according to Delmas is buried in Rennes-les-Bains, has sparked the imagination of scholars and researchers, not always guided by a critical spirit. Philippe de Chérisey, in his novel Circuit (1968), mentions the inscription as “POMPEIVS QUARTVS DM SVO”, and makes one of his characters exclaim: “Diis Manibus.The writing DM of Nostradamus".

The reference to the Gods Mani is read in relation to a famous quatrain of the French prophet who speaks of the acronym DM:

When DM inscription found, And ancient lamp quarry discovered, Law, King, and Prince Ulpian tried, Queen and Duke Pavilion under cover.

To correctly interpret the reference, it must be taken into account that there are very numerous funeral stelae from the Roman era which bear the letters DM, and there is no reason to consider that of Rennes-les-Bains more "significant" than the many others. On the other hand, fans of Nostradamus have not missed the opportunity to find in the Centuries a second reference to an unspecified Grand Romain later identified with the individual buried in Rennes-les-Bains.Nostradamus writes:

When the sepulcher of the great Roman found, The following day elected Pontiff, By the senate he will by no means approve ,His blood poisoned with sacred chalice.

Over the years the rumours about the place where the tomb once stood have gradually become more precise, focusing on a particular place at the entrance to the village, a point in front of the Hotel de la Reine where, for several centuries, it has made a cross known as the Croix Delmas, after the old priest's name. This famous incident, whatever it turns out to be, was not in my opinion related to the Pompeius tomb placement associated with the original pedestal placement. 

For that we need to look elsewhere!


It was not just the local clergy who were interested in the area of Rennes-les-Bains. Outside of the circle of the local parish priest there were those such as Alexandre Du Mege (1780-1862) who reported that Abbe Bertrand Capmartin of Chaupy (1720-1798), an archaeologist born near Toulouse, had recovered more than 400 currencies of gold and silver coins in the region of Rennes! Abbe Bertrand also left some manuscripts on the Celtic civilization and human language - subjects that strongly interested Henri Boudet. Du Mege, who had often stayed in Rennes-les-Bains, spoke of counselors at the Parliament of Toulouse who stayed at Rennes and found medals and coins. Jean-François de Montegut (1729-1794), from a family of collectors and a scholar himself, had more than 3,000 Roman coins including many from Rennes-les-Bains. He was also the owner of many paintings by masters including Rubens and Teniers which Delmas had personally seen. Delmas even offered a beautiful sepulchral lamp to the President of the Parliament of Toulouse, M. Caulet!

Paul Urban Villecardet, Count of Fleury (1778-1836) had a nice collection of coins and medals, objects that he had put into a small personal museum he created. He asked Mr. Du Mege to help him appraise all of the artifacts. In 1857, his son Henri-Paul Elie was awarded the Silver Medal of the Imperial Academy of Sciences, Inscriptions and Belles-lettres de Toulouse for his discoveries at Rennes-les-Bains - and his preservation of two wheels and various fragments of a bronze chariot found in the territory of the commune [it has been speculated that there might even be an ancient Roman amphitheatre in the region where chariot racing took place].

Finally, we should note that Alfred Sauniere [brother of Berenger Sauniere] was a member of the Archaeological Committee of Narbonne and that Henri Boudet knew Henri Rouzaud who was President of that Committee. Mr. Rouzaud made many study trips to Rennes-les-Bains and Boudet offered him several objects discovered on the territory of his parish: Vases, pottery and a beautiful gourd dated to the fifth or sixth century. How did Henri Boudet make such a find (see HERE) and in what context, archaeologically speaking, did Boudet make this find? One does not simply come across a fifth/sixth century gourd lying about the landscape that is so well preserved. 


Local villagers have reported via oral legends that Boudet - together with his family - had started to hide artefacts under a house built in the middle of the village - a house that was associated with him. If correct, this suggests a deliberate policy by Boudet of looking for artefacts around Rennes [i.e he found them during the course of his rambling walks or perhaps knowledge he was already aware of. Think of his comment in his book, La Vrai Langue Celtique. He wrote that he was: trying to penetrate the secret of a local history'. 

This activity may link Boudet to a verse in Le Serpent Rouge about the pillaging of artefacts viz:

'Celestial vision for him who remembers the four works of Em. SIGNOL around the Meridian line, to the choir itself from the sanctuary from which beams this source of love from one to another, I turn around passing the site of the rose of the P to that of the S, then from the S to the P ... and the spiral in my mind becoming like the monstrous octopus expelling its ink, the shadows obscure the light, I am dizzy and I hold my hand to my mouth biting instinctively my palm, perhaps like OLIER in his coffin. Curses, I understand the truth, HE IS GONE, but to him too in doing GOOD, like HIM of the flowery tomb. But how many times have they sacked the HOUSE, leaving only the embalmed corpses and numerous metal objects which they could not carry? What strange mystery conceals the new temple of SALOMON built by the children of Saint VINCENT [my emphasis].

 In the Histoire du Trésor de Rennes-le-Château Pierre Jarnac (Michel Vallet) 1985, Jarnac writes;

'It is known that the Abbé Boudet was heavily into archaeology, and because the village went back such a long way Rennes-les-Bains suited his passion admirably. Now a detail provided by the erudite Urbain Gilbert, who wrote about the Baths of Montferrand which became Rennes-les-Bains in a bulletin of the Societé d’Études Scientifiques de l’Aude 1973 volume t LXXIII, reveals a very characteristic psychological peculiarity of the Abbé Boudet. At the beginning of the century, during excavations at La Maison Chaleleau, a very beautiful staute of Venus was discovered. Seeing this goddess in her perfect nudity, the Abbé Boudet was horrified and would not touch it. An archaeologist from Béziers had to bend down to scoop it up and keep it as his own property'.

It seems that Boudet was not 'hiding artefacts under a house built in the middle of the village'. More likely that villagers were present when these artefacts were found and which became the subject of village gossip - and it referred to the local knowledge of archaeology attached to the very specific area of Maison Chalaleu. It makes one ask the question - as it seems impossible that Boudet just happened to find artefacts in the countryside - where was he taking artefacts from, to hide under a house associated with himself in the village? And how did he know about these artefacts? The house associated with Boudet at Rennes-les-Bains was and is in fact CHALULEAU as we shall see below.

As Boudet followed DELMAS much later as a priest of Rennes-les-Bains it is indeed conceivable that all this mystery was known to him. He refers to it in a coded fashion in his book LA VRAI LANGUE CELTIQUE. 

It was a historical work by Dr Paul Courrent [who was the personal physician to Sauniere & Boudet] about the history of Rennes-les-Bains which said;

"Paul Urbain de Fleury and his son Henri ... 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: fragments of brick and tile edges which are Gallo-Roman; a beautiful white cornice fragment of marble and an ornament plate of 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 palaeontologist, former president of the Society for Scientific Studies of the Aude, personally believes in the existence of the statue to which the hand with the egg belonged. He even locates the presence of this statue in the furnished hotel CHALULEAÛ at Rennes-les-Bains, in the middle of an exterior courtyard, where soundings carried out by himself, brought up marble dust which he believes to have come from this statue. This hotel is built on very old substructures. We do not want the owner of this hotel to continue to oppose any research - how interesting it would be, if it is true that the statue exists, to bring it to light and place it on the square of our station!" [i.e the Place Deux Rennes].

As we shall see below it is the complete arm with a hand holding an egg, white Marble, 0.60 centimetres which is of interest [as drawn by a local historian and shown below];

ENTER Docteur J. GOURDON's Stations Thermales de l'Aude

In this book Gourdon wrote:

"...in several points of the village today, mainly in the part between Bain-Fort and the hamlet of Le Cercle it has been recognised, at various depths, a great quantity of remains of Roman buildings: constructions of buildings, fragments of mosaics, etc, which may have been part, either of private houses/villas or monuments of another order. The literal space occupied by these objects indicates an extended and fairly large city, in the Valley, spread out to the broader and more Southern area of the village. In this Valley, there was seen, in the middle of a cultivated field, the site of a square house, recognisable from the lines and 'crop marks' found in the vegetation where it was much less bushy than in the corresponding parts of older buildings. It is at this point especially there have been found in the ground raised by agricultural implements, a huge amount of debris of all kinds, most covered with a layer of ash and charred fragments, testifying to the destiny of this ancient city, which, at the time when the whole country was ravaged by barbarians, was destroyed by fire. From this its prosperity disappeared and so did its fame and its name".

But here is where it gets interesting;

... Among the items discovered in the above cited circumstances, are objects of architecture, sculpture, pottery and various interior utensils, etc.The objects of architecture seem to be the most significant - they were found on the site of a house that actually forms the last house of the village of Bains, to the South; they consist of several sizeable fragments of capitals, columns, etc., of remarkable work, in which it is easy to recognise the debris of a temple, dedicated either to Aesculapius or Hygeia. One of these fragments is the base of a column that can be currently seen at the fountain of the Cercle, where it has been used as a capital/cornice, the dimensions allow us to consider that it formed the base of a column of more than 10 meters in height. Other remains are as follows: A beautiful white marble cornice fragment, forming a plate with a thickness of 45 mm, bearing letters carved in hollow of a rare elegance and of more than 10 centimetres, an antefixe [?] in white terracotta, of an an elegant model, fragments of tiles which were used by the Romans to cover roofs. An ancient inscription that Catel said existed during his time, in the Church of the village, & had originally been part of the buildings in the same vicinity [ie on the site of a house that actually forms the last house of the village of Bains, to the South - my addition]; Here is the text as this author: POMPEIVS QVARTVS. P. A. M. SVO. This inscription no longer exists in the Church of Rennes. We are told that it has been removed and is today located in a church in Perpignan. Also amid the debris of sculptures, there is especially noted: A complete forearm with the hand holding an egg, white marble; total length 60 cm, which implies that the statue to which that arm belonged, was of a height of 2 m, 50 at least, when one considers the proportional size of the arm in relation to the temple which we discussed and in which this statue would have had its place, a hand holding a snake in a patera, white marble; length 31 cm, which therefore, belonged to a statue of a much larger dimension again, another hand holding a cloth, made of white marble from Italy, and 18 cm long". [my emphasis]

All these artefacts and pieces of statues and buildings and even the cippe dedicated to POMPEIVS QVARTVS were for Gourdon found in a Temple associated with the area of houses south of the village, in the vicinity of Maison Chalaleau [which is near the Church at Rennes-les-Bains]. The artefacts were therefore not 'scattered' but found in one particular area or actually just in this house. Boudet would appear to be protecting the artefacts instead, not gathering them from around the countryside! It is not difficult to see this must be the origin of the legendary underground Temple in Rennes-les-Bains and is probably the same Temple that Boudet refers to in his book La Vrai Langue Celtique. Boudet's book mapped a geological structure surrounding Rennes-les-Bains, his vast cromleck, with the inclusion of a secondary circle in it's centre. It would seem that this second circle structure sits not far from Maison Chalaleau and the area of this ancient Temple. Archaeologically speaking a Cromlech usually surrounds a dolmen or ancient underground tomb. So one could argue that Boudet and his Cromlech surrounded the underground Temple at Rennes-les-Bains, which may have housed a tomb associated with the resurrection and to which the authors of the Beaucean text considered equivalent to the resting place of a female Goddess who was exhumed and then re- buried in a 'hotel courtyard'. This Temple is beneath the Maison Chalaleu and its environs. 

Dr. GOURDON also gives a drawing of a sculptured ‘head’ representing a female as a piece of architecture also found at Rennes. The sketch is reproduced by Courrent unfortunately not to scale, but the author says;

"It is a carved stone ornament of light colour and of an elegant design”.

Gourdon calls it an 'antefix' and says it was found, once again, in one of the houses to the south of the village. The date of finding was probably around the building of the original house in the village [1860's?] - long after the time of Delmas, but definitely during the time of Gourdon, which is why Gourdon refers to it but Delmas [1709] does not! Again this caught the attention of Doctor Courrent, who wrote in his monograph about Rennes-les Bains;

"One can see, set into the wall of the presbytery, at the side of the garden, an elegant ornament represented by figure - 1 sheet 1 of our monograph - an image borrowed from the works of Doctor Gourdon."

Here is the famous Head of Rennes;

This head, Gourdon says, is from the probable Roman Temple below Maison Chalalue. Boudet does talk about a head in his works. He writes;

Opposite the point where the spa and the parish church are located, the rocks bears the name of Cap de l'Hommé. A menhìr was preserved in this place and there was, above, carved in relief, a magnificent head of the Lord Jesus Christ, the Saviour of mankind. This sculpture, which has seen the passage of almost eighteen centuries, has given this part of the plateau the name of Cap-de-l'Hommé, after man par excellence, the filius hominis. In December 1884 the sculpture was damaged by a young man armed with an pick ax, and therefore it was decided to remove it: it was entrusted to an archaeologist from Alet-les-Bains, Cailhol"

During the 20th century a head was fixed to a wall of the inner courtyard of the presbytery at Rennes-les-Bains: the find has survived, and can be seen in the museum of Rennes-les-Bains. Is it the head referred to by Henri Boudet – returned to Rennes-les-Bains from Cailhol's house? According to Urbain Gibert and Guy Rancoule, archaeologists of the Société d'Études Scientifiques de l'Aude it is not the same head. And in fact they are right, because pictures of the head show us that it is in fact the head Gourdon describes as being found associated with Maison Chalaleu. 

Gourdon did not link his head to the presbytery but with the site of a house that again formed the last house of the village of Bains, to the South! We are surely building an image here of a large Roman Temple complex, buried now, probably after a fire, but to which the foundations have been seen, covering an expanse of space encompassing the south of the village, that is Maison Chaluleau and probably the modern town square [under which is some sort of burial crypt/vault is to be found] and to the church [hinted at by Cherisey in Circuit]. All the artefacts and finds associated with the Fleury's and their cabinets of 'curiosity' are the artefacts all found from this Temple complex associated with this area. An important part of the architecture involves a female head - probably of a local Goddess or Romanised Goddess, early Roman Empire and the first century. Perhaps Gourdon was right, the famous head of Rennes was originally found in the vicinity of the valley of Le Cercle, or the last house of Bains and represented a local Goddess and divinity of the spa town, or water cult, Romanised when the Romans took over the site and that it was indeed an antefix found on a public Temple building in the area. We already have eyewitness accounts to Temple remains in the foundations of Maison CHALULEAÛ. But ultimately, even if there is a Roman Temple beneath this house, it is simply just Roman archaeology, interesting though it is, why all the mystification?

Boudet himself does not hesitate to reveal to the former deputy of the Archaeological Commission at Narbonne Henry Rouzaud, when he comes to meet Boudet at Rennes, that he saw the foundations and the base stones of an ancient Roman temple and even indicates its location;

"at the house of the blacksmith at the exit of the crossing which leads to Rennes-le-Chateau on the current road, which goes from Bains to Sougraigne”. 

i.e Boudet is indicating the ancient carrefour of the village of Les Bains [see below - a rare word for crossroads or a public square, especially one at the intersection of several roads. The word origin is from Old French quarrefour, ultimately from Latin quadrifurcus - having four forks] - the actual cross-road of the Cardo Maximus and the Decumanus Maximus right by Maison Chaluleau!

A French researcher followed this up and wrote on a French forum;

'In order to locate the House of the blacksmith, I looked with precision at the census, the house of Cros is located at the 63rd place/family on 67 to Rennes-les-Bains, which lay at the end of the village at the time. By paying attention to the close vicinity of the Cros family, we can note the presence of the boarding school for girls run by nuns, who are at the 61st place, two houses before that of the blacksmith. The location of the boarding school is identifiable by its religious niche on the façade'.

The researcher went on to say that the blacksmith's house is easy to establish:

"The great Arch of the opening matches the type of activity of a farrier. It should be noted this building leads on the way to Fangalots leading to RlC, which fits the description of Rouzaud. This being established, [we] may therefore consider that from the Rouzaud notes: "Boudet said we have seen almost all the houses upstream that range from this blacksmith house, along the built road and he said he saw the foundations and the large base stones of this Temple; that the temple is located in this area".So it seems this area of the Maison Chaluleau and its environs [i.e. the houses next to it] are vitally important. And it seems that the whole Priory literature is to do with this site and all the mystery is all focussing on this one area. But why?

Above - the map that accompanies Docteur J. GOURDON's Stations Thermales de l'Aude book.


Cue an interesting comment by a researcher using the non de plume Michel Montbard.

He wrote on the old Arcadia forum the following:

"...a few years back, there was a very interesting debate on a french forum. Someone had some bold theories, claiming information from a local villager. According to local legend there is a house in Rennes-les-Bains which for several generations belonged to a family with links to Abbe Boudet; the Cathary Family. … in this house there is a well called Puit du Cercle - it can be filled with water and emptied when needed. The Well gives access to a circular underground structure. This ancient structure only has half of it remaining, because the other half has collapsed as a result of flooding or landslides".

If this local legend is true then the Chaluleau house we seek is the Maison Chaluleau - Cathary [from 1900], prior to that known as or perhaps connected to the Maison Aveilla Etienne. We know that the original house was built in around 1860 so maybe some of these archaeological discoveries were made in relation to these building works? Gourdon published his book about these finds in 1874 - just 14 years after the house was built but again rebuilding occurred at the time of Boudet and perhaps even later. If the legend cited above is based on fact the Puit du Cercle will give access to an underground structure, and it most certainly will be the remains of the Roman Temple identified by witnesses and where most of the archaeological finds we have been discussing have been made. It is also the same place that Plantard and Cherisey continually reference, it is where their zodiac is placed, it is the area where, for them, something monumental will be dug up. 

And it shows that the legends attached to the local Hautpoul family of the two Rennes, and through their links with priests have found lots of archaeology - especially the very ancient baths at Rennes - contribute to the treasure stories in history for this area, which ultimately related to this Maison Chalaleu and its environs, or more precisely, what is under the foundations of this most central and ancient part of Rennes-les-Bains - exactly the centre of Henri Boudet second and central cromlech - which for him will reveal 'a secret of the local history at Rennes-les-Bains'

Above - Maison Chalaleu. Some aspects resemble a Roman building. 

Below - reconstructed plan of the old Roman village of Rennes-les-Bains [taken from the Histoire de Rennes les Bains [2006] (by Riviere and BOUMENDIL) - the black dot represents/places the ancient ROMAN well of the Roman village linked to access to a Roman Temple. The plan is the super-imposed on to the modern village.