I have recently become aware of the following information:
"In November 1956 Monsieur Cotte of the Société des Arts et des Sciences de Carcassonne asked the membership during its monthly session about the treasure of Rennes-le-Château, that led to an official investigation of the subject matter. Two members conducted on-the-spot research in March 1957 that lasted for one year. René Descadeillas commented on pages 57-58 in Mythologie du Trésor: “They found no evidence anywhere to support the assertion that, down the ages, any individual, family, group or clan could have accumulated a precious treasure-hoard at Rennes and then concealed it in the locality or its environs. What is more, the activities of the Abbé Saunière were undoubtedly eloquent of the sort of stratagems that he was accustomed to using in order to enrich himself. ” [http://priory-of-sion.com/pos/descadeillas.html].
Now this is a very interesting snapshot indicating the state of knowledge as it was at this time in the story of Abbé Saunière. Once again, it gives credence to people thinking there may be some truth to the whispers, and the Société des Arts et des Sciences de Carcassonne themselves undertook to investigate. But then when i see the 'there is no evidence' mentioned, and that Abbé Saunière's "activities ... were undoubtedly eloquent of the sort of stratagems that he was accustomed to using in order to enrich himself" i begin to question whether the researchers are just a tiny bit biased or even lazy! Not because i particularly want to believe Saunière found a treasure but because there are strange goings on with Saunière that cannot be explained away - and i never see those researchers in the camp of 'he was a crooked priest selling masses' even address these strange actions. Saussez has amply shown the priest was working to a plan, viz:
"When the bell-ringer, during the renovations [of the church], saw something glinting on top of/or inside an old baluster that the masons had discarded...it turned out to be a glass phial - & inside this glass phial was a parchment. This parchment allowed Sauniere to find the crypt of the Tomb of the Lords & other information too. This find takes place in around 1887.
After this discovery, Sauniere carries out some activities which most certainly is suggestive of him searching for something.
• Beginning in 1891 Sauniere approaches the town council to close off the square in front of the church and cemetery.
• He wants to build religious furniture and lay flower-beds here (however he doesn’t do this til 1894 -1897).
•The Council agrees to his request after public consultation.
• Sauniere then appropriates 500m2 of space in front of the church and cemetery. He controls access to this area for 300 days of the year. Why? To excavate? Sauniere certainly excavates here and in the cemetery.
• Sauniere moves the worship of the Virgin Mary to outside the church. Originally however this was inside the church, & there was an altar to the Virgin not far from the place of the original pulpit. This was referred to by Leuillieux in 1876.
• There are concealed recesses here (Sauniere built these). The staircase built here matches the exact size of the original altar of the Virgin (58cm x 200cm)
• The accounts of the lifting of this altar Saussez thinks is the root of the eyewitness descriptions (‘I saw a pot with shiny glinty objects ..’) of the workers with Sauniere when they raised the slab. They saw the glinting objects under the the stone slab when it was removed. Sauniere says to his workers these are worthless medallions from Lourdes, cementing the connection with the Virgin altar.
• The stone slab raised at this altar marked an entrance passage. Sauniere puts temporary floorboards down here. At the opposite end of the church he builds the Secret Room. Steps down from this second entry passage are later found by Cholet.[courtesy Paul Saussez]
Some 'disbelievers' argue that the story of the parchment found in the glass phial is not legitimate because it appears late and is not contemporary with Sauniere. For example, Sauniere didn't write in his diary 'found a parchment' etc. Some 'disbelievers' also think Corbu invented the whole idea. However, the 'story' of something being found in glass phial comes via family history and stories passed down the family. Village communities are renowned for gossip and knowing everyone else's business. Why is their testimony not acceptable?
Furthermore Sauniere continued with a planned stratagem:
• There was already an entrance on the south side of the Church wall. It was the private entrance used by the Lords of Rennes. It was called the ‘Gate of the Lords’
• Eyewitness accounts of a phial seen in an old baluster had an old parchment in it. This baluster was an architectural feature holding up two arches at the side of the church.
• Saussez: this paper most certainly the work of Bigou. Revealed the tomb of the Lords?
• Parish register found among the papers of the late Sauniere which referred to this tomb of the Lords.
• Discovery of a tomb on 21/9/1891 - does it relate to this tomb of the Lords? [The discovery seems to culminate at the end of all the actions of controlling access to the church and cemetery and after he had been digging around in the cemetery and church etc]. Sauniere then leaves for a retreat, sees various other priests, returns from retreat and after a visit from 4 unknown colleagues begins new work with new Masons. One of those Sauniere consulted was Carriere (a doctor from Limoux) who’s cousin was Abbe Lassere of Alet, and who was personal doctor of Count Chambord. The donation of 3000 gold francs from Chambord went through Carriere. Others he consulted were Gelis and Cros. [information courtesy Paul Saussez].
Some French researchers have speculated that the 'discovery of a tombeau' diary entry might refer to, in ecclesiastical terms, the sepulchrum of the altar stone. In our common language 'sepulchre/sepulchrum' denotes a tomb, grave or burial place. In ecclesiastical terms it refers to: a small square or oblong chamber in the body of the altar, in which are placed, according to the "Pontificale Romanum" (De Eccles. Consecratione) the relics of two canonized martyrs although the Cong. Sac. Rit. (16 February, 1906) decided that if the relic of only one martyr is placed in it the consecration is valid, to these may be properly added the relics of other saints, especially of those in whose honour the church of the altar is consecrated. These relics must be actual portions of the saints' bodies, not simply of their garments or of other objects which they may have used or touched; the relics must, moreover be authenticated. If the altar is a fixed or immovable altar, the relics are placed in a reliquary of lead, silver, or gold, which should be large enough to contain, besides the relics, three grains of incense and a small piece of parchment on which is written an attest of the consecration. This parchment is usually enclosed in a crystal vessel or small vial, to prevent its decomposition. [[Written by A.J. Schulte. Transcribed by Michael C. Tinkler. The Catholic Encyclopedia, Volume I. Published 1907.]
Now one can see how the definitions above echo, in 1891, Sauniere finding a tombeau. What is confusing however is that the altars [whether the stone pillar of the main altar or the wooden balluster [both of which were said to contain parchments] with sepulchrums were found much earlier. The first finds took place in around 1886/87 when moving the altar. To perform this work Sauniere had appealed to the contractor Elijah BOT - assisted by his apprentice Pibouleau. They lifted the stone and noticed that one of the supporting pillars was hollow and filled with ferns, inside there was 2 or 3 wooden rolls containing scrolls. Elie BOT later declared that "these documents were pretty much [il]legible and that in any case they do not relate to money". There was the pulpit supported by a wooden baluster and during the repairs all of the pieces of old wood which made up the furniture had been thrown to the ground unceremoniously ...... the bell ringer Antoine CAPTIER saw something shining in the darkness, he came near and realized that the wooden baluster had a small glass vial housed in a slide - it contained a piece of paper".
It was around 1895 that complaints were filed relating to the curious actions that said Saunière was busy by night moving tombstones in the cemetery. Was he looking for a secondary entrance to a crypt which was within a false grave? He does not spare his efforts to find it.
The timeline suggests that around 1886 or a little later was found the sepulchrum in the altar. This contained parchment and perhaps relics of an unknown martyr or saint. A little later the wooden balluster was found with a glass phial inside. The paper inside this glass phial may have had details of the construction of the church, or information about a burial vault or information about important burials at Rennes. In 1891 Sauniere notes in his diary 'discovery of a tombeau'. This must surely be a tomb/burial or grave. Why? Because if it was a tombeau in the ecclesiastical sense this seems to have been found much much earlier in around 1886/1887. Whatever the tomb was that he found in 1891 - it seems odd that 4 or 5 years later Sauniere is turning up graves in the cemetery and 'discovers' another tomb!
So how come the Société des Arts et des Sciences de Carcassonne never mentioned any of this? How come the two members of the Society 'on the spot' found no evidence anywhere to support the assertion that, down the ages, any individual, family, group or clan could have accumulated a precious treasure-hoard at Rennes and then concealed it in the locality or its environs? What were they expecting to find? A big old entry somewhere 'on the spot' [does this mean 'on the spot' at Rennes-le-Chateau?] announcing 'It was here!' - or perhaps they were looking for a flag waving in the wind with a sentence on it - 'try here!'. I say this in jest, only because, as we know, the recent work of Stéphanie Buttegeg and her book Les Mines Légendaires Antiques de Rennes-les-Bains asserts that there was some strange machinations in the mines under Roc Negre - not far from Rennes and its environs which she believes conceals more than just seams of copper, and that most certainly families related to the Rennes-le-Chateau story tried to stop people accessing these mines. She says; ".... on the Blanchefort mountain near Roc Negro - under the boulder of the watchman [Veilleur] is to be found another very old mine. This is the most important [one] to our knowledge on this mountain and it also appears to be so [for others] as it appears recurrently in the archives of the fleury-dubosc folder. However, it is not a gold mine, but copper - as evidenced by the many blue and green stones littering the floor of galleries and the blue colour of its walls. The ancient texts call it the mine of Ivry".
Which families showed an inordinate amount of interest to stop people accessing this mine on their lands? It was families such as the Fleury's and Hautpouls & they were/are central to the mystery of the two Rennes - and so perhaps this constitutes the real 'evidence ... to support the assertion that, down the ages, any individual, family, group or clan could have accumulated a precious treasure-hoard at Rennes and then concealed it in the locality or its environs?
I'm not saying this to be pedantic. I'm just asking what kind of research the Société des Arts et des Sciences de Carcassonne carried out. Why did they not find this information? Because if they had they might have come to a slightly different conclusion? Even Plantard had accessed these archives and developed a theme of Dubosc accessing a mysterious place under Roc Negre and combined this with knowledge he already had. Plantard even uses the measurements from the Dubosc archives on these Fleury/Hautpoul mines to illustrate how far down it is in Roc Negre to get to that mine of importance!