03 Jan

When talking of the tourist trap that Rennes-les-Bains was - in a contemporary 1913 article - written by a journalist when he visited the village - he wrote;

"thirty rustic houses, well built, welcome visitors and provide them food and shelter following a wide price range: & each convenience and accommodation and food according to your pocket and pleasures; numerous customers come from all around, this year we have more than 20. Three come from Switzerland, another is a famous musician emerita in Geneva, another is American, many living in Nice; among them, a lady of the court of England, not least, the Marquesa S .., whose beauty was really impressive, and in which her ego emphasized the elegance of a profile and a distinction without precedent;

the Hôtel Griffe, a type of good modern family hotel, built and furnished again, not too big, and maintained by a team led by Mr. and Mrs. Griffe. Mr. Griffe, cheerful, long - time resident in London, where he was head of the Traveller's Club & Mme. Griffe, a native of Luxembourg and one of the great dressmakers of London. Mr. and Mrs. Griffe come every year to spend the bathing season at Rennes, and they contribute to the construction, development and maintenance of the hotel, and good treatment and English comfort : good food, English for those who wish specialties"

An interesting observation re: the GRIFFE family and their hotel at RLB is linked to the priest Boudet.

Boudet, that strange archaeologist priest who abhorred the finding of a naked statue of Venus in Maison Chalaleu and who was obsessed by an imaginary 'head' and an imaginary cromleck wrote:

"the “tête du saviour  [is] a menhir [i.e. a standing stone] preserved on this site [a hill above Rennes-les-Bains] and it is a [head] which is carved, in high relief, and represents a magnificent head of the Lord Jesus, the Saviour of Mankind. This sculpture, which has seen approximately 18 centuries, has given its name to this part of the plateau, Cap de l’Homme, the Head of Man, referring to the man par excellence, filius hominis. It is deplorable that we were obliged, in December 1884, to remove this beautiful sculpture from the location it occupied, to remove it from the ravages of a pick-ax of an unfortunate young man, who was far removed from being able to understand the significance and its value".

If we forget for the moment that this quote is from his bizarre 1886 book - LA VRAI LANGUE CELTIQUE - which he wrote 2 years after he 'rescued this head', he also states the head is 1800 years old. That is to say he thinks the menhir and the sculpture dates to AD86! 

This 'HEAD' seemed to be confused with another head found on land owned by the Fleury family;

Madame TIFFOUS, born Alys GRIFFE, in 1886, at Rennes-les-Bains, said: "Mr De GROSSOUVRE mining engineer in Bourges, Colonel TOUCAS, Périgueux, and my father Joseph GRIFFE of Rennes sought the veins of ore at the Pla de la Côte or Pla des Bruyères, on land owned by Count H. De Fleury. They found a boulder which seemed interesting, brought it to my father and the Abbe Boudet [of Rennes les Bains] arranged to have it cleaned up and [we] saw it was a head. MARTIN, mason, on the order of Abbe Boudet placed the head at the place where it is still, [and] this happened around my twelfth year, i.e. about 1898".

Alys does not say, unfortunately where Boudet instructed the head to be 'placed'. Nevertheless it cannot be the head from the Menhir as this was found 2 years before!  We also know that one Monsieur Cailhol, collecting fossils and stones in the area of Rennes-les-Bains was mixed up with a stone given to him. CAILHOL is alleged to have taken possession of the 'Head of the Saviour' according to Boudet in his 'La Vrai Langue Celtique' - where he writes; "(Note: "This carved head of Christ is in the hands of Mr. CAILHOL Alet)".

Research carried out by Peter O'Reilly (in the Rennes Observer April 2005) confirms that Monsieur Cailhol of Alet indeed knew Henri Boudet, and was perhaps an intermediary for him. In the "Mémoires de l'Académie royale des sciences, inscriptions et belles-lettres  de Toulouse", 1877 (SER7,T9): we find the following entry:

"MEDAILLE D’ARGENT DE RE CLASSE. M Cailhol, à Toulouse (Collection de fossiles)." [Silver medal, first class. M. Cailhol, Toulouse (Collection of fossils).]
"M. Cailhol, avocat à Toulouse, a profité d’un séjour de quatre mois à Rennes-les-Bains pour   recueillir les fossiles de cette station bien connue des géologues. [...] M. Cailhol se propose d’augmenter encore cette année sa belle collection et de  faire une étude suivie de la région qu’il a si heureusement explorée."
[“M. Cailhol, a barrister (attorney) in Toulouse, has made the most of a four month stay at Rennes-les-Bains to collect fossils from this resort that is  well-known to geologists. [...] M. Cailhol intends to increase his collection again this year and to make a sustained study of this region that he has investigated so successfully.”]

U. Gibert and G. Rancoule discuss this 'Head of the Saviour'. They say that the "sculptured head,....is currently sealed in the presbytery of Rennes les Bains". It seems - however - on further investigation that this head was one of two, and that the two heads have been completely confused with each other. The above authors say:

"Even taking into account the fragility of human testimony after such a period, it seems likely that we are dealing with two different heads: Year of discovery 1884 and 1898 , an interval of 14 years - One head male, the other female.  Head fixed on top of a rock,  the other a block. First head  went to Mr. CAILHOL, the second head was sealed in the wall of the presbytery by the mason MARTIN.

       But the location of the finds are the same: the rock called "Cap de l’homme’ on the boundary and along the Pla de la Côte or Bruyères. We have checked that the sandstones forming the rocks of the  Pla are similar to that of the head. It seems reasonable to conclude positively".

Is the father of Alys GRIFFE related to the Griffe of the same Hotel mentioned above? This Griffe is said by his daughter to have 'sought the veins of ore at the Pla de la Côte or Pla des Bruyères, which is somehow mixup with the head Boudet had fixed into the wall of his presbytery!

This Griffe is mentioned again in the 1913 article - the journalist writesFinally lovers of prehistoric and archaeological studies, found in the valley of Rennes amazing riches: Celtic axes, flint arrowheads, etc. Many megalithic monuments, Roman remains, lamps, tiles, jars, etc. (Mr. Griffe father, one of the oldest inhabitants of the area, has a cabinet full of each of these types of fossils and archaeological objects that he collected, and very graciously shown to all visitors.)

He probably got on well with Boudet in archaeological searches. In 1973, in a communication with the Societe d'Etudes Scientifiques de l'Aude, U. Gilbert writes about the discovered sculpted head in the mountain, in the place called Pla de la Cote. This sculpture he said, was sealed, in the wall of the presbytery by the mason Martin, by order of the Abbe Boudet. 

The most obvious question is why? Wouldn't you have thought that Boudet, priest, if he was going to put any sculptured head inches presbytery - it would have been the head of the Saviour, and not a probable female head, an antefix, as we shall discuss below. 

Gilbert calls Griffe "A cook from London but of French nationality, Marius Griffe, recovered in 1899, a second stone with drawings and inscriptions, in the same place. It is now in a museum in London. Whatever the case, the sculpted head of the presbytery will be baptized "head of the Saviour" and it remains in place in Rennes-les-Bains."

So this Griffe, discovered a second further stone in the area where the 'boulder head' was found. One could speculate that the drawings and inscriptions might he elucidated the provenance and identity of the larger head already found? The one that Boudet thought was 'the head of the Saviour'.

In the 1913 journalist article the writer mentions Boudet:

"We must not forget the old priest of Rennes, the Mr. Boudet , one who knows endear himself to all who come, is a wise archaeologist who described in a very precise volume numerous Druidic monuments in the Valley of Rennes and has made a study of the most enlightened and most interesting of the Celtic language which reconstructs a large number of elements. He is one of the kindest and most interesting men, one can see, always willing to share his knowledge, they are the visitors who approach him. He has, in his garden, some of the finest specimens of the Gauloise sculpture that he saved from destruction.  (The nose had already been destroyed). This is a bust of a woman, larger than now, which has been placed again on a pedestal, on a huge planted on the steep ridge and narrow north - facing stone, the town of Rennes, on which she tilts head and directs his gaze.

Bizarrely in 1913 the head that Boudet found was said to be female. No hint of it being a male head, let alone a representation of Christ!

So there is the Boudet 'head' - which Boudet himself says he gave to Mr. CAILHOL of Alet. Then there is the 'boulder' head found on land owned by the Count Fleury in the region of the Pla de la Côte or Pla des Bruyères by the daughter of possible RLB hotel owner Griffe.

And then the historian Gourdon also seems to refer to a further sculpted head found in an old Roman building - he even gives us a diagram - which he says was found along with much other archaeology. He says:

in several points of the village today, mainly in the part between Bain-Fort and the hamlet of Le Cercle, it has been recognized, 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, recognizable 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. ....

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 sizable fragments of capitals, columns, etc., of remarkable work, in which it is easy to recognize 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, and that its dimensions allow us to consider that it formed the base of a column of more than 10 meters in height. Also an antefix [?] in white terracotta, of an an elegant model".

This ante fix is shown for us in a diagram and is a head! And it is suspiciously female looking! [An antéfixe is an architectural term describing an ornament of sculpture which was used in antiquity, which decorated the bottom and sometimes the top of the roofs of buildings whether public or private].

From my reading this means the 'Gourdon' head was found among the other archaeology in the valley around the hamlet of Le Cercle. Or perhaps along with the archaeology that was found on the site of a house that actually forms the last house of the village of Bains, to the South!

Gourdon's head has been described as a female head [local Goddess?] which was possibly an ornament that adorned a large - i suspect- public building in the south of the village between Bain Fort and Le Cercle. Gourdon never says his head was sealed in the presbytery at Rennes, and he never says the head was found in the region of Pla de la Côte or Pla des Bruyères.

However, on the wall of the presbytery at Rennes-les-Bains, under the carved head placed there - it reads "sculpture of a detached standing stone located on the extreme edge of Pla des Bruyères, facing the parish church [sculpture détachée d'un menhir placé sur l'extrême rebord du Pla des Bruyères, faisant face à l'église paroissiale".] 

Gourdon goes on:

These various objects are kept in the cabinet of M. de Fleury, owner of the Bains and the discoveries - which date back various eras, are only a very small part of what has been found in the country during the course of the last few centuries. It would have been interesting to keep them as souvenirs and as historical evidence of the village's ancient splendour as a spa town, but they have unfortunately disappeared, and is extant only in the writings that we have made mention of. 

He refers to the work of Abbe Delmas - who by the way, never cites this 'head' in the presbytery. Therefore it seems it was found after 1709, but before 1874 [when Gourdon mentioned the antefix head] which throws in to question the alleged Boudet find of 1884. 

This would also suggest another head because the testimony of Mme TIFFOUS, born Alys GRIFFE, of the finding of "a boulder which seemed interesting, brought it to my father and the Abbe Boudet [of Rennes les Bains] to have it cleaned up and [we] saw it was a head. MARTIN, mason, on the order of Abbe Boudet placed the head at the place where it is still, [and] this happened around my twelfth year, i.e. about 1898"

As you can see the date of 1898 is much too late to be the same head of the Saviour. 

Two archaeologists mention Gourdon, saying "As we said ...the location of the find as antefixes eliminates its allocation or as a decorative element placed on a building used for public worship. It seems that the size and shape prohibit this: it is either a votive or a fragment of tombstone, or the character is represented in bust or foot. We think we see in this representation one of the innumerable minor goddesses, more or less Romanized Gallic pantheon 

It seems there is a dispute about where this Gourdon 'head' was found - it had nothing to do with the land owned by Count Fleury but more to do with the hamlet of Le Cercle. And in fact, Boudet's second cromlech, inside the more famous larger cromlech is based around Le Cercle. Others that is was found at the Pla de la Côte or Pla des Bruyères.

Perhaps Gourdon is right, the head was originally found in the vicinity of the valley of Le Cercle, and perhaps represented a local Goddess and divinity of the spa waters, and was indeed an antefix found on a public Temple building found in Le Cercle? 

As for the Head of the Saviour, French researcher Christian Attard has a fascinating theory as to where that went ....It is, he thinks, to be found in the cave at Galamus and what is more it is with a SATOR square, a point added by Plantard and Cherisey years down the line. Attired writes;

this head [of the Saviour] was ... extracted from the rock where it was carved and there is no doubt here that we are dealing with a man with a beard [perhaps carved as a representation of Christ] and it could well be mistaken for the Saviour. ... Boudet tells us that this head of the Saviour was given at some point to Constantin Cailhol of Alet. He was a skilled explorer, says Boudet, and the discovery, says the priest of Rennes-les-Bains, seems to be associated with a cave of Bize (Aude), and he mentioned it a few times in his book "The true Celtic language." On page 241 Boudet talks about a wheel and he reiterated that the wheel fragment of which he speaks is also in the possession of Mr. Constantin Cailhol. Knowing the way Boudet used certain explanations to describe the etymological meaning of words many saw his explanation as a repeated reference to the key: cai / key and the cave, the cave hole

Cave, key, head of the Saviour, Cailhol, two stones - a head and a wheel/millstone?

The name of Constantine also opened multiple hypotheses too - a cave where we find a 'head' that could be mistaken for the Saviour with a SATOR square?Back to our wheel. Here is what Boudet said:

"What determines our thought is the millstone fragments - cast iron, removed from the ground during November 26, 1884, by workmen, below Borde-Neuve while the construction of the road from Rennes-les-Bains to Sougraigne was taking place." Boudet then notes that this millstone fragment is in the possession of M.Constantin Cailhol, of Alet!

Exhibited in the main cave at Galamus - there are several fragments of ancient wheels marked with the famous monogram of Christ! Can it be that Mr. Constantin Cailhol or his family have donated the most cumbersome parts of the wheel come millstone to the hermits at Galamus? The question is not negligible because to my knowledge, I have not seen anywhere else these type of wheels on show next to a portrait of a 'Saviour' [which was originally engraved out of rock]. And it must be recognized here that we have many recurring elements in our history in the Galamus hermit cave, that of St Antoine, Teniers, the chrism and thus the sign by which you will conquer .. as well as a millstone shaped in a circle/wheel with a carved relief of a magnificent head of the Lord Jesus the Saviour sitting on top of a SATOR square!

If Attard is correct this is the Head of the Saviour, rescued by Boudet and given into the safekeeping of Cailhol.