The Coumesourde Stone
Part 1: A stone… but which one?
is silent, the stones speak, goes a saying popular with
(Gérard de Sède in “The Accursed Treasure of Rennes-le-Château”)
The memory of stone
To what would the mystery of Rennes-le-Château be reduced if the
mosaic of elements that have made this into what it is, would be eliminated one
by one? The question is whether the whole would remain standing. Over time, some
of the primary elements that were part and parcel of the “original mystery” have
been forgotten, abandoned and sometimes discredited. There were the parchments,
which propelled the mystery forward, but which were then discredited when it was
learned that de Chérisey had created them. There were the Stations of the Cross
and other aspects of the church in Rennes-le-Château – and elsewhere – that were
subjected to painstaking analysis. Sometimes, it turned out that the author –
Gérard de Sède – had altered photographs in some to convey “his message” – which
definitely did not seem to be born out by the evidence on the ground.
But amidst the pool of elements, certain items remained standing, and they were often stones: the Dalle des Chevaliers; the tomb of Marie de Nègre; the Coumesourde Stone. The former exists, the second is widely believed to have existed (but destroyed by Saunière), the latter was the subject of intense debate.
The arrival of the Coumesourde stone
overview of important stones associated with the mystery, the tombstone of Marie
de Nègre and the Coumesourde stone are key ingredients, though often why so, is
less clear. Furthermore, both are often spoken off in the same vein, as if there
is – or was – some causal connection between both. In both instances, for
example, it was assumed that they were freestanding stones. Whereas in the case
of the tombstone of Marie de Nègre, this would be a logical assumption, there is
nothing on record that would immediately qualify the Coumesourde stone as such.
Though an unfounded assumption, it does typify the basic problem of the Coumesourde stone. As soon as it was brought into the enigma, it was surrounded by a series of uncertainties, often at a very basic – and hence fundamental – level, which did not help those who were trying to speak in favour of its existence and its importance.
For example, from the start, there was nothing but a drawing, which many considered to be of dubious origin. And indeed, each person who spoke of the stone, seemed to come with his own drawing of the stone, which largely resembled the other versions, but which was never one hundred percent identical. Already, this is greatly confusing for anyone trying to find out which one adheres the closest to reality.
Furthermore, whereas we would not expect to find photographs of this stone in the first half of the 20th century, with modern technology now in existence, one would expect to see photographs of this stone – which would enable a quick verification of which drawing is the most precise. Unfortunately, where the stone was precisely located – or whether it even still existed – was an unknown. To this, we need to note that as versions of the drawing multiplied, theories and speculation constructed upon the – or a – drawing became ever more complex if not fanciful, whereas no-one was ever able to strengthen the foundation of the debate – by providing proof of the stone’s existence.
A lesson in topography
In any effort
to find validation, we need to look at some fundamental aspects. First of all,
let us look at the name, Coumesourde, which is derived from a location near
Rennes-le-Château. However, any verification on the map will quickly reveal that
the name is listed as “Coume Sourde” – in two words. Though some have hence
begun to write the name of the stone in two parts too, more generally, the stone
is still referred to as “Coumesourde”.
The IGN map for the Quillan area (1/25000) reveals two locations known as “Coume Sourde”. The first is located on a section of the road that links the two Rennes. The road is well-known to Rennes enthusiasts, as it passes by certain sites, such as La Valdieu, La Maurine and other hamlets and sites that are reputed to have “indications” as to the nature of the enigma. As to Coume Sourde itself, it refers to a few constructions that were no doubt once part of an agricultural installation. The second site, located somewhat lower in altitude, is that of a brook that originates above the hamlet in question.
A lesson in orthography
expect too many revelations from merely identifying a location on a map. But we
are somewhat taken aback by the fact that the preferred spelling of the site –
when it comes to the naming of the stone – is different from the name that is
found on the map. We note that the report as created by Ernest Cros lists the
name of the site in one word. Robert Charroux did so too. As does Pierre Jarnac,
and so does Gérard de Sède. Are we to believe that none of these authors ever
looked at a map of the region? Or are we instead forced to assume that actually
the location on the map as “Coume Sourde” has nothing to do with the location
known as “Coumesourde” – which would thus be located somewhere else, though not
in the area of Rennes-le-Château, as the maps do not refer to a “Coumesourde”.
As unlikely as the latter scenario might be, it might be what is implied, for
these and no doubt other researchers would have gone to “Coume Sourde”, in the
hope of finding the stone, and either make a new drawing or even a photograph.
Another assumption was eventually accepted – at least for those who promoted the existence of this stone: that the stone was actually “removable” and was allegedly found with a doctor from Paris. Hence, the problem was resolved, for the stone – which was not there – had merely been moved elsewhere.
First of all, let us try to make an inventory of all the known drawings and references that relate to this stone, and which could be considered as “primary evidence”. It thus becomes quickly clear that most secondary sources – those who have speculated on the stone and continue to do so today – have used either the drawing of Ernest Cros or Gérard de Sède. As might be expected, there were differences in the precise placement of certain letters, as well as what was on the front and what was on the back of the stone. We should note that anything on the back of this stone would make it a freestanding structure, which would thus suppose that the stone could be removed from the site.
To quote Ernest Cros
primary evidence in the story of the Coumesourde Stone is a very small report,
only a few pages long, which has been attributed to Ernest Cros, who would
appear to be the first to mention a stone that he considered to be of sufficient
interest to dedicate a small report to. We will not tackle the controversial
debate whether or not he was a Freemason or not, as at present, it is not
important in this debate.
The typed text was included in the book “Les Archives du trésor de Rennes-le-Château”, published by Bélisane in 1988. It is now debated whether this typewritten document is actually the original document, as some have traced the typed pages to Noel Corbu’s typewriter. Of course, the possibility that Corbu typed or retyped this document does not mean he fabricated the entire report, as some of the sceptics have argued. It might merely mean that Corbu typed up an original report from Cros.
If we are to
believe the document, then the discovery was made around 1928 – post Saunière –
and its discoverer was Ernest Cros himself, an amateur archaeologist. In the
report, we also see an expose of a possible decodation, which seems to lead to a
“treasure”, whose location is revealed by the decodation of the
Here, we come upon the “problem” as indicated by the sceptics, for the document states things like “Mr. Cross supposed that the author of the inscription…”. It does make it rather difficult to straightforwardly identify the author as Cros, unless he liked to refer to himself in the third person.
To quote Jacques Cholet
We have to wait until 1967 before further information is discovered in the infamous report that is known as “the Cholet report”. The popular legend goes that this report was composed by someone who had made detailed studies of Rennes – and specifically its church – and drew some of his personal conclusions based on these inspections. He also argued that he was almost killed, the victim of an assassination attempt that was masked as an accident, when leaving the church of Rennes-le-Château.
On page 6 and 7 of this document, he discusses briefly an inscription, which he does not label as “Coumesource”, but which is easily recognised as such.
To quote Robert Charroux
Next is Robert Charroux, in his “Trésors du monde”,
published by Fayard in 1972. Apparently, this edition is now very rare and
“sought after”. What is curious in this edition, is that it is a revised edition
of a previous book, with the same title, that was published in 1962. In the 1962
edition, there is indeed a chapter dedicated to the mystery of
Rennes-le-Château, but when you read it, you will not find any references to the
Coumesourde stone. In the revised edition, however, the entire story is
developed in much more detail. The obvious question needs to be posed as to what
happened between 1962 and 1972 that this author was able to go from nothing to a
quite detailed account of the controversy. The answer will soon become
But before doing so, we need to underline that Robert Charroux offers a hypothesis which he presents as the fruit of a personal, meticulous piece of research. We learn for example that the treasure of Rennes is in the citadel of the king and belongs – belonged? – to the Templars. The methodology of accessing this wealth is by being able to read two clues, one of which was inscribed on the tombstone of Marie de Nègre and the other on the Coumesourde stone. The precious depot itself was placed in two locations, one known as Bézu and the other in Val-Dieu. Of course, to find the precise location of the latter, one needs to get to the stone itself and Charroux notes that it is in a hollow of a rock, which is indicated by an arrow and a cross. Once the stone has been found, all one needs to do is trace the lines on a map of the region, to find where the treasure is hidden. How simple it seems to be to get very rich! Still, let us note that the outline of the inscription on the stone is vastly different from what Ernest Cros presented in his report.
To quote Gérard de Sède
It would be surprising if Gérard de Sède did not mention the Coumesourde stone, and he did, in “L’or de Rennes”, published in 1967 by Juillard. In fact, though de Sède mentions it, he does not make too big a deal of the stone, though we should note that he provides yet another – third – version of what the inscriptions on this stone look like. It is rather remarkable to find three quite diverging versions of one stone, when apparently one original served as the source of all. To this, we need to add further consternation when we can read underneath the drawing “Figure 3 – The Coumesourde Stone (drawing by Ernest Cros)”. As it is not conform to what is visible in the Cros report, it is clear that one of the two is false. The question is which one – or whether they are both non-conform to an original – if not the fruit of someone’s ingenuity.
To quote Pumaz
Finally, the Coumesourde stone is discussed by Pumaz, written in 1977. He uses the same – false? – drawing that was shown by de Sède. In this case, however, he states that the stone was located on the plateau of Lauzet.
Copies and carbon copies
since, most other authors have used either the version as given by Gérard de
Sède or that by Ernest Cros – whereas many, no doubt, who used the former,
though it was conform to the latter, seeing it stated as such. As to the one
that was used by Robert Charroux, it seems that this was the least popular and
hardly taken up by any of the other authors. A consensus, as such, seemed to
indicate that de Sède – pretending to copy Cros’ – was the only – though
contested – representation.
Furthermore, we should add that some internet sites show a photograph which is claimed to be that of “Coume-Sourde”, which was found ca. 1970 near la Valdieu. It is this one that is indeed in the possession of a lawyer who lives in the Paris region. Apart from being a “tribute artefact”, the stone also has the noted problem that its design is “landscape”, whereas the “real stone”, based on the drawings that are in circulation, seems to be “horizontal”. Indeed, though there are differences amongst the primary sources, at least they all agree that the stone is “horizontal” rather than landscape. As to underline that this is a tribute artefact, it probably suffices to point out that the photograph of this artefact shows how well it has preserved its inscriptions – far too well for being an original artefact.
What is precisely written on the stone? For this, we will quote from Robert Charroux, who sums up quite succinctly the “basic argument”.
REDDIS: in Rennes
REGIS: of the king
CELLIS: in the cellars
ARCIS: in the citadel (though other possible translations)
PRAE-CVM: Heralds (short for “prae-convm”), Heralds of Christ, claimed to be a reference to the Templars in the 13th and 14th century.
Hence: “in Rennes, a treasure is hidden in the caves of the citadel of the king. This treasure belongs to the Templars.”
there are variations on this theme:
REGIS: of the king
REDDIS: in Rennes
ARCIS: de Blanchefort (blanca fortax, arcis)
CELLIS : in the cellar (or crypt)
PRAECUM: coming from the Templars.
As to where
this all fits into a larger whole: “Since the 13th century, the Voisin, de
Marquesave, the Hautpoul and the Fleury families all possessed […] the secret of
the place of one or more treasure caches created during the troubles of the
Revolution. One chronicle states that in 1789, before emigrating, the counts of
Fleury engraved ‘the enigmatic indications of the secret in the tombstone of the
lady of Blanchefort as well as the Coumesourde stone.’” Charroux then states how
some of these treasures belonged to a king, another to the Templars, etc. As to
the Templar treasure, it was “buried or walled in, in two parts, in the 14th
century”, as mentioned, in Bézu and Val-Dieu, or at Casteillas, in the River of
Colours to be precise.
Charroux then offers the interpretation that Cros gave:
SAE: la Sauzée (Sauzils)
SIS: the rocks
+: the Templar Cross
IN MEDIO LINEA: the bisectrix of the angle SAE + SIS
UBI M SECAT: there where it cuts the largest side of the triangle
LINEA PARVA (implied: UBI M SECAT): there where the smallest side cuts the largest.
PS PRAECVM: a part of the treasure of the Templars
+: the Templar Cross, referring to les Tiplies or Bézu, where this engraved stone was still visible in December 1958 (the same sign existed still in 1958 on a rock near Val-Dieu).
referred to the work of Cros in discovering and tracing the inscriptions, which
were said to have been the work of a member of the Hautpoul-Fleury family,
before their emigration.
He did nevertheless underline some problems with all of this: the tombstone of Marie de Nègre has been destroyed and how it looked, had been reconstructed from memory. As to the Coumesourde stone, there were entire words missing, and the precise placement of certain characters – which was very important – was only known by approximation. “The task of the treasure hunter is therefore to rediscover the text in its entirety.” And what to make of this, which is the very next sentence? “Mr. Ernest Cros, who was a Johannite disciple (an Oriental Christian sect approved by the bailiffs of the Temple) had the Coumesourde stone transported to Paris, either to his family, or, and we think more likely, to the seat of a secret society. Since that time (1945-1946) the stone has disappeared.”
A stone gallery
Let us now reproduce the principle representations of the stone – four in total – so that we can also add some initial observations to them.
The Cross version
The first drawing was allegedly made by Ernest Cros, in 1928. If the oldest – even if copied or invented by Corbu many decades later, it would remain more than likely the oldest version – than it would also been seen as the authoritative version.
If we look at the carvings carefully, we see a collage of words, letters and signs, all playing with an equilateral triangle.
The Cholet version
In the report, the image seems to be reduced to its most simple format.
The de Sède version
This is the most popular, perhaps because it is also believed to conform to the “original” (Cros) version.
In this instance, the triangle is no longer equilateral, the two descending sides are much longer than the “horizontal” side. The inscriptions are nevertheless identical to the Cros version. The same cannot be said for the crosses, which have been “Templarised”. The version, however, also has a new element: the manner in which the triangle is represented suggests the outline of the shape of the stone upon which the inscription was found.
The Charroux version
The final version is that of Charroux, which was reconstructed by electronic means.
Here, everything is very ambiguous, for it is a drawing that could just as well belong to the tombstone of Marie de Nègre as to the Coumesourde stone. The same applies to some of the inscriptions, some of which are held to be part of the tombstone inscription: REDDIS REGIS CELLIS ARCIS, written above the outline of the triangle that is apparently the Coumesourde stone. Furthermore, even though the size of the design appears to be more equilateral as per Cros, the top line of the triangle is not drawn, making this a rather bizarre omission on Charroux’s part. Finally, let us note that in Charroux’s explanation of what this inscription might mean, he makes references to three crosses, whereas his design merely shows two!
One stone for all, and all stones for one
With four versions in circulation, it is clear that the tenors of
the enigma were not uniform in their approach as to what the design on the stone
represented. Why no-one enquired why these versions were so divergent, and why
each one who created a new version did not refer to the fact that he was not
conforming to a previous design, are important questions – which no-one seems to
have had the desire to ask.
In the absence of others having asked these questions before, we will continue to do so on our own. To recap, the various tracings – if that is what they are – show (Cros and Charroux) an outline without any information about the setting, whereas de Sède and Cholet seem to suggest it is placed within a square/rectangle.
To this, we need to add that de Sède not only presented a setting, but also offered a text that came from the back of the stone. That too is set within a frame, thus suggesting that what he had drawn, was the actual size of the stone itself – and implying that he had seen the original, for how else would he know what was on the back? Let us note that Ernest Cros never makes any reference to an inscription or anything else on the back, even though it seems he is the only one of those writing on the stone who has actually seen the object!
Furthermore, based on the report published by Pierre Jarnac (aka Michel Vallet), Cros never stated that the Coumesourde stone was a detached stone, except in one instance, “other interpretations: the stone is a border stone of a property of a nobleman.” Indeed, a border stone can have – and often has – the shape of a freestanding stone, but we should stipulate that Cros is nevertheless not explicit it is a freestanding stone. Indeed, the author seems to abandon this “third option”, arguing it’s impossible, “an opinion very hard to maintain, given the text and the presence of the words ‘PS PREACUM’”, which hence suggests it is not a detached stone at all.
Which, in short, begs the question why Gérard de Sède presented this stone as such, even with a text on the back, with the risk of being exposed for what it seems to be: confabulation. Furthermore, if the real stone was ever discovered, he would have been exposed for a liar. Of course, it is possible that the stone never existed to begin with – the favourite explanation of the sceptics – but it bypasses the obvious, which is that no-one has pointed out that de Sède went far beyond the available evidence – whether genuine or created by Corbu or someone else.
The shadow of the Priory on top of a stone
As to the notion that this stone was an invention: though possibly,
the question is why, for the stone has never really been pulled into the “real
mystery” of the Priory of Sion, largely always having lived a life on its
To this, we do need to add that “Coume-Sourde” never appears in any of the “Plantardised documents”, or the Dossiers Secrets. Hence, to argue that the Coume-Sourde was central to the Priory mythology, seems hard to maintain. Hence also the fame of the Coume-Sourde is no doubt secondary to anything else “out there” in the public imagination. It is no doubt also the reason why few researchers were interested or cared about this stone and why the above inconsistencies in the accounts were seldom – never – pointed out.
As to Gérard de Sède, we need to add that it would last until the intervention of Jean-Luc Chaumeil who, in his publications, showed that the version of de Sède was created for a specific cause, namely furthering, if not proving, the existence of the Priory of Sion. Chaumeil argued that the stone was a topographical encoding, which, when placed on a map of France, revealed certain key towns and cities that the Priory held as “dear” to their cause. It did not, however, seem to be a treasure map.
The engineer and the first secret elements
In our opinion, this stone existed – exists – and we will
see later why we have this conviction. But before doing so, we need to state
that Ernest Cros, if he indeed found this site, could have made a tracing,
conform to reality. It would have been a firm start and might have prevented the
mushrooming of versions later on. If he ever made such a tracing, it has
disappeared – or he secreted it away himself.
Cros had studied at the Polytechnical School and ended his career as the Chief engineer for the State Railway. He was interested in cartography, archaeology, history and would hence have had all the necessary skills and interests in carrying out such a tracing. In fact, if Cros never made such a tracing, it is most likely because it was hard, or impossible, to do one. Perhaps the engineer was confronted with an engraving on a piece of native rock, too large to be transferred onto paper, or perhaps situated in an awkward – dangerous – place.
What Cros did not accomplish, none of the others accomplished either. None were able to show a tracing of the inscription. Furthermore, as mentioned, none of the more recent authors (de Sède, Charroux, etc.) spoke of, but did not provide any details as to where it was precisely located.
If we are to assume that several researchers were able to find the
key to the message that was left by this stone, there are several “realities”
that we need to take into account. First of all, we should thank each and all
authors for being so generous as to share their discoveries and the wealth of
the treasure with all their readers; it is a form of altruism that seems typical
of writers – and few others. But equally, we should note that many of these
writers relied on tracing lines and shapes on IGN and other types of maps, each
of which did not exist at the time – the only available map in those days was
the Cassini map, which was often difficult to get a hold of for the common folk.
Hence, if this message was coded in the 18th century, by a lord, the Marquis
Paul-Vincent de Fleury, it is possible that he had these maps at his disposal.
If he encoded the mystery topographically, then it would nevertheless imply that
the decodation would involve the same type of map, and not modern ones. But for
anyone who had the proper maps, the decodation would have been simple. For a man
like Ernest Cros, an engineer with the railways, this would have posed no
Still, if a “treasure map”, as the more popular accounts have made the stone out to be, requiring a triangle and a fourth point to identify a location is rather over the top. If it is a topographical location, there is no need for such a complex system of identifying a location. Hence, in our opinion a topographical approach is less likely and the transmission of information more so – that is, of course, if the basic ingredients, as given by the authors, are correct.
Once more, three points
There remains the delicate problem of Ernest Cros, “a brother of the three points”. What motivated him? Curiously, Michel Vallet goes to some length to try and show that he was not a Mason, based on the testimony of the parents of Cros. It is unfortunate he instead did not rely on the list of the Vichy government, which identified each and every Mason… and where Cros is listed as a Mason. Hence, the choice of Cros coming upon a document that uses “three points” to identify something should perhaps not be seen as a coincidence, if only because the three points conform to the method in which Masons position their three points. And the method of doing so, is linked to identify the “Unknown Master”. Furthermore, the method in which the Coumesourde is inscribed, namely a tracing on a “tablet” of rough stone, which was worked but not finished, should also ring further Masonic alarm bells. Thus, even if the Coumesourde were a modern fabrication, at least it was fabricated within a Masonic context – something the sceptics have definitely failed to point out.
The dangerous secrets of a Spanish exile
continue the basic storyline of the legend, it appears that the stone was buried
and hence could not be seen by everyone. Only those who knew where to look,
would be able to find… and having found the stone and decoded its meaning, would
be able to find the location of the treasure. Hence, it is a system of double
encoding, which at first sight, might seem an excellent method of secrecy
management, but which would also greatly confuse things. For if someone is
deemed to be “on the level” to be told the secret of the stone’s location, it
implies he was also trusted to find the treasure – so why not just tell him
where the treasure is?
Despite this inconsistency, the stone would enable the transmission of the secret (location), across time, without the required presence of the person transmitting it. This is therefore an excellent mechanism if the transmission would occur over a long period of time… or if its transmitter had to flee the country, for example Father Bigou at the time of the French Revolution.
Indeed, if there was a need for a quick encoding of anything, we should once again look towards this priest, whom previously, we know, was able to encode his cemetery so that his successors would be able to learn some of its subterranean secrets. If the priest was aware of anything else – another treasure, or another location of importance – than it is likely he would have gone about it in the same manner.
But in this logic – and with Bigou’s track record – the position of the Coumesourde stone itself might have been more important than the message on it; or at least the two may have been linked. In the popular account, the position of the Coumesourde has been deflated, with its inscription taking the limelight. That may be a serious error, for if only the inscription mattered, why did the encoder not leave it in a safer, more accessible position?
A Masonic Intervention
further insights into all of these scenarios, and especially the “Bigou route”,
we should note that this priest’s writings while in exile remained, until the
20th century, the private possession of a religious society in Spain. We could
call this “the Priory”, not of Sion, but of Spain. As to where we should find
this organisation, it is known that this was in the larger area of Gerona.
Approximately a century ago, these “heirs” of a New Age opened their ranks, for a precise mission, so that certain brothers could be admitted – brothers of the Masonic kind, not brothers of the religious kind. This “mission” was slow in development, as if the plan itself had to take its time, or run a certain course – or conform to a certain predestined timeline. But part of this transmission was the annexation of two Lodges, one from Lyon and the other from the Catalan region, a transmission in which Saunière would play an important role.
So, if someone (Bigou) encoded something, and gave the secret of the code to a secret society (a “Priory”), the code would be well-protected, and transmitted over time. When someone felt that the time was ripe to try and decode or solve the riddle, they might have decided to open up their group, if not twin it with a French lodge, as this would allow French people to join this lodge – and it might be French people were required… as they lived in France, not Spain. Specifically people from this region might have been tapped. Irrelevant of the small details, once a decision was made by this organisation to open up its ranks to Masons, Masons could have joined – for example the likes of Saunière or Cros.
Though this is a very logical – and likely – scenario, when we apply it to the Coumesourde stone, we nevertheless note that there are some problems. For example, if Cros did come into the possession of this specific secret (as opposed to other information), it appears that there is no clear evidence as to what happened with it between the moment of Cros’ death (in 1945) and the moment when it reappeared as part of the mystery of Rennes-le-Château, in the late 1960s. Still, it is possible that when it resurfaced, or made its way into the possession of Noël Corbu, it did so from Cros’ personal archives, as present in one of his properties, in Ginoles. This document could have been found when the property was broken into and looted in 1960, by an unknown vandal. It could be at that moment in time that the document was retyped, and slightly changed, to be later published by Michel Vallet. If this scenario were true, then of course it implies that the thief was after specific information – though perhaps he did not steal, but instead preserved, certain information that would otherwise have become lost. The break-in into the property of Cros – which was listed for demolition – did come at a remarkable moment in time, for it would be shortly afterwards that the stone began to make its appearance in the puzzle of Rennes-le-Château.
The astonishing adventures of Ernest Cros
If the elements are correct as they are represented, then it seems
that Ernest Cros succeeded in locating this stone. But arriving in the area
where the discovery was made, it becomes quickly clear that this is not the
easiest of terrains. There are shrubs and various undergrowth that make the
exploration of the area very difficult. Even going to a predefined point as
identified on the map becomes troublesome to the extreme; a modern GPS system
helps, but though this will correctly identify where the precise location is,
getting there quickly and easily is another thing. Without GPS, progress is
slow, and if the material you have to discover is not visible to the naked eye
but hidden, the task is virtually impossible. Worse, if you are looking for
something but have no precise information about its exact location or visual
appearance, you might prefer to go and search for the needle in the haystack, as
it will be easier to retrieve. Even if, somehow, at one point in time, you
happen to chance upon something that may very well be the item you are looking
for, even then there is never an absolute guarantee that what you found, is what
you are looking for, unless the item is so distinct there can be no doubt.
In either scenario, we have to take our hat off to Cros for going on this quest, and being able to discover something.
So if Cros
did set out to make this discovery, we need to underline that Cros was a
scientist, a rational man, not known for his adventures, and definitely not for
his dreams. Hence, if he set out on this quest, it is that he was at least
moderately comfortable he would recover something.
Of primary interest for Cros would have been having to know what he was looking for, and the knowledge that there actually was something to discover. What would Cros push into going out and trying to locate this? No doubt, of vital importance would have been that the discovery was… of vital importance. Also, we need to ask whether this was a personal quest, or whether someone had requested or demanded from Cros to carry out this quest on their behalf. In this case, it is clear Cros did not act alone and that Cros was largely the “labour force” these “unknown superiors” – or colleagues – relied upon.
If some of these criteria were not met, then it is still possible that Cros, who was a known amateur archaeologist, made the discovery by accident. But despite this possibility existing, it is also extremely unlikely – if only because the site where the location was made, would not be one where random discoveries are made, and specifically not if the stone was hidden.
If the stone was encoded, then it is likely that the code was at least a century old – going back to the times of the Revolution. Also, it is highly unlikely that the people who had the key in their position to unlock it was the noble family that allegedly sought to hide the information – as the Revolution had largely eradicated nobility. Hence, another, non-family line of transmission was required, and there are only a few known to exist: within a religious society or Masonry and like.
Spain plays and wins
have changed in the state of play on the Coumesourde stone, had it not been for
one important event. The French correspondents of the Spanish group, which had
gone public with the announcement that they possessed the notebooks of Bigou,
decided to launch a second “mission” that concerned the Coumesourde stone. One
year ago, they began to work from the same foundation that Cros possessed – or
had been given: information present in Bigou’s notebooks.
At first, they were able to locate a mine in the area of the Rennes-le-Château – a discovery about which we reported previously. Then, we heard, at regular intervals, information about their progress in tracking down the Coumesourde stone, which was painstakingly slow, if only because of the conditions in which the quest had to be carried out – even though the general area where to look was known. It was only at the beginning of the spring of 2007 that the stone was located and verified for what it was.
Before delving into the story of the stone itself, we need to remain
in Spain. It is by now clear that a lot of information is beginning to point
towards Spain and the region where Bigou spent his final few years, after having
had to abandon Rennes-le-Château. We have the recent revelations from Patrice
Chaplin, we have most importantly the notes of Bigou… and we have certain
anomalous events that have occurred in front of many people’s eyes, but which
were not seen for what they were. As to Chaplin’s “City of Secrets”, we should
note that it argues that Cros was somehow instrumental in being a liaison
between Saunière and Gerona, specifically the “exchange” of Maria Tourdes, a
local girl from Quillan, who was given sanctuary in Gerona, by a “private
society” – with which Saunière was familiar. Let us also note that this group
claimed it had sheltered Bigou… and could thus very well be the same private
society that some years ago proclaimed to be in the possession of Bigou’s
notebooks. If so, there is a logical scenario, which also takes into account the
union of two lodges.
Bigou possessed certain information, which was preserved by a society. A century later, it linked with Saunière who, with help or mediation from Cros, began an exchange. Saunière was able to decode Bigou’s “cemetery riddle”. At some point in time, later, it seems that Cros was entrusted with carrying out a similar mission, which involved the discovery of the Coumesourde stone. Each piece of this “riddle” was later seized upon and transformed by “the Priory of Sion”, with endless speculation on both subjects. Whereas it is clear that the “cemetery riddle” had all to do with how to get easy access to some of the subterranean aspects of the church, we would not, at present, like to speculate as to what the purpose of the Coumesourde stone was – except that it was no doubt not what the principal authors writing about the stone thought it was.
As to the
final enigmatic event that reveals a link between Spain and Rennes-le-Château:
there was the discovery of a stone in the “River of Colours”. This event did not
occur without incident. The recovery operation of this stone from the river bed
was carried out with the authorisation or knowledge of the (then) mayor – it is
difficult to hide the type of machinery that was required for the operation. And
hence, rather than try to do anything illegal, those desiring the recovery of
this – at first glance relatively unimpressive – stone had proposed an exchange
– the church of Rennes would receive a new bell, if they could get this stone.
The authorities at the time should have questioned why someone wanted a stone
no-one seemed interested in.
In the end, matters did not work out as envisioned, but we mention the story because of the fact that those putting forward the proposal were Spanish in origin. Why Spaniards would be interested in a local stone in the vicinity of Rennes is a good question – to which we will only add that it appears to have been not the only such stone that created interest from south of the border – the not too distant Coumesourde stone being another example.
argued that “a mysterious Spanish society” had an enigmatic archaeological stone
in its possession, which had been hidden in the garden of “the Frenchwoman” in
the centre of Gerona. Later, the stone was removed from its hiding place and
apparently transferred to Perpignan, where it remains guarded by “a private
As to the stone of the “River of Colours”, did it perhaps contain certain “indications”, similar to those found on the Coumesourde stone? Or perhaps even indications on how to recover the Coumesourde stone? Perhaps the future will tell…
How one stone can hide another
Whereas part two may be largely based on a series of “ifs”, these
possible scenarios obviously were explored to result in a conclusion, which is,
as mentioned, that the Coumesourde stone has been rediscovered. Specifically,
that it has been rediscovered by using the notes left by Bigou... and that
Ernest Cros was indeed the person who was more than likely the last person
before now to have discovered it.
We also know that the site was not too close to the hamlet of Coume Sourde, nor near the small stream. The inscription is to be found elsewhere, which no doubt explains why none of the researchers were able to discover it in Coume Sourde. Even though we do not want to reveal the precise location at present – of which more soon – the fact that it exists, and is not in Coumesourde as such, is of interest. Was it an error? A misnomer? Wilful deception on someone’s part? If so, whose?
A new start
been able to see “the real deal”, it is now also clear that reality does not
fully – and in some cases not at all – correspond to the various descriptions
and drawings that are in circulation. Its discovery also makes some theories
that have been created about the stone implausible – if not totally discredited.
For example, the theory that the stone would have been removed from its original
location and be present in Paris, is obviously false. The theory that the
inscription was on a freestanding stone, is equally erroneous. Indeed, the
“Coumesourde stone” is, from now on, no longer a stone in the most precise
meaning of the word, as it is an inscription on a rock face. Furthermore, it is
not located in Coumesourde. Despite these two misnomers, for clarity we will
continue to refer to it as the “Coumesourde stone”.
That the various drawings are not conform to reality also means that any old theory as to its meaning, is now obsolete and new attempts at interpretation need, should and no doubt will be made. Though some of these will be as, if not more, fanciful than previous attempts, we would like to underline that the discoverers of the site, aided by the notebooks of Bigou, are trying to define an interpretation themselves, which will have the advantage of being made within the framework of Bigou’s information.
Still, despite none of the older versions and theories are precise, it is clear that each version was not too far off the mark, and that some of the theories which were created upon the drawing may indeed be seen as having relied on certain “privileged” or insider information. The question, which no doubt will never be answered, is where precisely these authors were able to get this inside information. Furthermore, if that source of information turned out to be one person, or a collective of people working together, the question should be asked why a multitude of theories were introduced – but, indeed, that is another “if”.
We need to add that the non-disclosure of the precise location of the stone is voluntary – for the safekeeping of the inscription itself – as well as being a demand from those who discovered it. In return, we were allowed to publish a series of photographs, which showed the stone, though not any detail of its surroundings, which would give away its location. It is an unfortunate truth of the Rennes-le-Château enigma that as soon as a new discovery is made, that item is either destroyed or stolen. The enthusiasts have become their own worst enemy, and hence the reason why we have to use this policy. Still, we are in the possession of GPS coordinates and have been given the ok to provide anyone in an official capacity with this information. It is then up to that relevant authority to decide whether or not to reveal details. The discoverers themselves are equally making contact with the proper authorities. Our organisation will furthermore make a mould of the inscription, and once completed, this will become part of the material that members can consult, and which will be placed on display when requested. Hence, if the original would befall a fate many thought it had already befallen, no “real” information will be lost.
The curious knowledge of Ernest
discovered by Cros in 1928, the location was then forgotten again; no-one seems
to have known where the inscription was located, as otherwise, various claims
would have been made – and various photographs would have done the round. But
nothing of the sort occurred, except for one design, created by Ernest Cros
himself and which, as we have and will see, does not conform totally to the
reality on the ground.
Again, that no-one found the location, should not cause consternation, as the location is not on Coume Sourde – and we seriously need to question whether the name given to the inscription was hence a mere error, or wilful deception – if so, by whom?.
Did Ernest Cros really find the location and its message? It is
possible that the answer is yes. His drawing is the closest to the real
engraving, though, at the same time, it is also clear that there are some
differences – and more than one would normally expect – and accept. And hence,
some form of deception on his part is in evidence, and hence the question needs
to be asked why he altered the design.
Several other questions need to be asked too: did Cros feed back to his Spanish colleagues or supervisors? Did he do this correctly, or did he feed them this “lie”? At its simplest, we probably need to accept that Cros fed back to his colleagues/superiors, stating that “the site” definitely existed – and perhaps the drawing itself was merely a quick survey, to accompany his initial report. Perhaps he later went back to the site, to perform a more detailed survey – one which was not found/stolen in the 1960s. Various possible scenarios exist, but it is clear that amidst the various scenarios, one of them has to be correct.
it is clear that Cros found the inscription and that this knowledge was known in
the 1960s, upon which a variety of authors began to unleash their “intelligence”
onto the design. It would take another half century before a Spanish fraternity
would send – once again – not one but two specialists into the region; they
worked for one year, using the indications left by Bigou, to identify this site
and ended up discovering the engraving – which was not in or near Coume Sourde.
A new start
Even though the engraving is now known, what the engraving implies remains a mystery. Its origins equally remain unspecified, but amidst the myriad of possibilities, one does propel itself to the forefront: as Bigou left information about the inscription in his notebook, it is obviously from at least the 18th century, and hence may indeed have been created by the Marquis Paul-Vincent de Fleury. Why he did so – and whether this has anything to do with the Templar treasure – remains questionable. Seeing that specifically the theories about Templar treasure were based on erroneous versions of the inscription, it is unlikely.
inscription itself, it is nevertheless clear that the quality of the engraving
itself is clearly “amateurish”, and not the work of an expert. Indeed, bringing
an expert labourer to this remote location, to place an enigmatic inscription
into a rock surface would by default have raised questions the labourer would
more than likely not have been able to keep to himself.
The inscription was done on a surface that was largely rectangular in size, relatively smooth, into which the inscription was hammered. Neither the surface nor the inscription shows any sign of “perfectionism”: creating the inscription was all that seemed to be important; its finishing was not important. It means that the inscription definitely did not need to conform to any aesthetic qualities, and hence is of a practical nature.
As to the letters – if not numbers – it is clear that some are hardly readable and, as a whole, are incomprehensible. Furthermore, none are aligned, and none conform to the same height, intervals or styles. In short, it reconfirms that this is the work of an amateur, but that in itself is important: it was an amateur who realised that he had to leave – here – an inscription, on a surface that would not disappear with age. Rock was the only surface that would accommodate him. He searched for a space, relatively flat, and located in a place where he could work and make the inscription. It is also clear why he would have preferred native rock, and not a freestanding stone – as the latter could be (re)moved.
Once accomplished, the inscription would remain – though over time, lichen and other things would obscure it. But it would remain in situ, and withstand the test of time.
Of course, sceptics might argue that this inscription and
its poor quality are telltale signs of the “fact” that this was the imaginary
pastime of a shepherd – shepherds being held responsible and blamed for so many
things in this enigma. Of course, this flight of fancy (of the sceptics) should
be seen for what it is – to which we will add that the area is ill-suited for
flocks of animals. Also, this type of inscription is not what shepherds would
endeavour to do whilst the flock was eating away.
Still, by placing this inscription on this rock, it is clear that its creator also left it to be visible to anyone who would pass by the location. Over time, the inscription would indeed begin to disappear from sight, as its creator must have known. But not so in the immediate future. The lichen with which the engraving was covered only attached themselves on the surface since Cros – Bigou must have found the inscription still perfectly intact.
Hence, its creator must have realised that whatever rebus he placed on that rock, would have been seen by unknowing passers-by, but would be deciphered only by those who came on a specific mission to locate this site, and do whatever else was necessary from that point onwards.
Known to exist in Bigou’s time, with Bigou in exile, the priest could do nothing more than write down what he knew. Then, in 1928, Cros was sent on a mission, and then in the early 21st century, a new mission was launched. Both missions were able to find the engraving, but, it seems, that was the end of it. And it appears that after Cros, the location was forgotten again, for why else send a new search team out?
It seems clear that Bigou must have left more information in his notebooks than merely just a location of where to look and what to find. The purpose of the rebus must equally have been conveyed upon his reader. That information, however, remains within the bailiwick of the Spanish society.
A point of view
We are hence
confronted with the reality that the inscription – the rebus – was inscribed
there, because it had to be there – and for example not secreted away in a
notebook in a library, or by some other means. Location was important – primary.
As the “key” had to be “there”, it is perhaps the reason why the inscription had
to be coded: so that unknowing passers-by would merely say “what’s that?”, but
would not read things like “go to place X and you will find treasure Y”. Which
brings us to the second observation: by inscribing this rebus there, it indeed
seems to have marked something there or nearby, and whatever that something was,
was either secreted away there by someone in the past, or had always been there.
Hence, it seems that whatever it was, could not or should not be moved. It also
seems that whatever it was, was there in Bigou’s time, and we will assume that
Cros did not remove whatever was there neither.
Also, whether the marquis, whom is at present the likeliest suspect of having created the engraving, placed something there, or was the one who decided to leave an indicator in a certain location so that this or another site would not be forgotten, is another good question.
So, based upon what we now have, certain things are clear:
1. the inscription exists;
2. the inscription is in a rockface that cannot be moved, and hence suggests the inscription is relevant to something in or near that site;
3. the inscription is encoded, so that only certain people would be able to decode it – and no doubt must have gotten the key to decode;
4. the inscription is done by an amateur, suggesting a professional would have questioned the why and what of the task he was asked to perform;
5. the inscription was placed in a visible location, so that it would indeed be visible. If no-one was allowed to see what was written on the rock itself, the artist should have opted to place this inscription onto the surface of a small cavity, of which there are hundreds in the region.
Still, it is
equally clear that the site, though open to all, is not often visited – and
hardly so today. Hence, those who come here, are either lost, ramblers, or those
with a mission, and hence no doubt heir – the inheritors – of the man who
encoded the inscription here, as a key indicator.
As to who did it: though de Fleury remains the first and main suspect, there is no solid evidence to prove it was him. Even though de Fleury may have been aware – Bigou must have gotten his information from somewhere – he may have been just one in a series of people, which would include him, Bigou, Cros and the recent expedition members.
What is clear, though, is that the Coumesourde stone must indeed be classified in the same category as the tombstone of Marie de Nègre: information belonging to the aristocracy, and which had to be preserved from the ravages of the French Revolution… and was done as such by Bigou.
The difficult game of signs
though we know it now exists – which is more than we did a year ago – as to its
origins or purpose, we are still unclear. The “key”, it is clear, is held by
this Spanish private society, which disposes of the Bigou documents. It is also
clear that they hold the key as to announcing what – if any – they want to make
public – and when.
Still, it is clear that now, for the very first time, there is an authoritative rendition of the lettering of the inscription and that one can perhaps complete a decodation without the need of a “key”; perhaps the inscription contains all the information that is required to decode it.
Let us note
that the photographs on this page were taken after the lichen were removed, the
rock surface was cleaned, and that the inscription was then retraced by dropping
carbon in the incisions, which is easily removable – and occurs naturally, e.g.
Having completed that task, what became visible are “words” such as “PARVA” and “PPACVM”, which is close to the often-proposed “PRACUM”. Indeed, the second P of PPACVM may have been an R, with that specific line having become too indistinguishable today. PRACVM would definitely be the more logical option.
As to PARVA, this is accomplished by using the letter V that floats over the word between the letter R and A – of course, this is our reading of it, and might not conform to what the encoder intended. If incorrect, it would be “PARA”, which might have a meaning in relationship with the V above it. V was both the 22nd letter of the Roman alphabet, as well as the Roman numeral five, making it even harder to decide what’s what. Hence, it could be 5 PARA or V PARA, or variations therefore.
This already leaves several possibilities – at least five – and this purely in one area of the inscription. And there is no method – unless there is a key – to know which of the five options here might be the proper one. Each other block of text offers more possible interpretations, as a stand alone, as well as a whole, making for hundreds, if not thousands of possible renderings.
However, we also observe that the superposition of a letter, which seems as if it was an omission from the word below, was also employed in the tombstone of Marie de Nègre in the cemetery of Rennes-le-Château. The latter inscription seems to have been the work of Bigou, and it is of course his hand which also wrote down details about the Coumesourde stone in his notebooks. Did he perhaps use this technique on the tombstone as he had seen it in use on the Coumesourde stone? Though it is indeed possible that Bigou himself was the man who also created the Coumesourde inscription.
The drawings that circulated for a few decades showed a triangle,
with its point down. Though there is a basic triangular design on the actual
inscription, the actual drawing is not as triangular as one would suspect. For
example, there is a horizontal line running through the triangle; the right hand
side line of the “triangle” stops here and does not continue below to complete
In fact, only the word “MEDIO” can be said to be with any certainty to be both on the drawings and the actual inscription. But then again… To create the O, you would carve out a circle. But in the case of this “O”, it is carved out as a whole, thus making it an oval, rather than a letter O. We note that another O elsewhere is carved in a similar matter. As it required more effort and is more difficult than carving a simple O, it is clear that there is meaning of some form behind it. Again, the question is what type of meaning.
As to the
number of crosses – disputed in the various versions in circulation – there are
two, one at the bottom and one near “MEDIO”, largely in the centre of the
drawing. The problem with this central cross is that it misses its fourth, upper
branch. There is, in essence, no “room” for this branch, as the space above is
occupied by the word MEDIO. But it is clear that this cannot be a mere error,
but must have had some type of intent. Indeed, one might argue that the design
was such that the M of MEDIO was positioned precisely there and in that fashion,
so that it would form the fourth – missing – branch of the cross below. Of
course, is it an M, or instead “I v I”? This would make it “I v I DIO” or even
“1 5 1 DIO”. Various options and suggestions once again. And if a cipher was
employed, then it is also the case that what seems obvious – MEDIO – is often
not so clear on a second reading.
There is a final group of carvings that are on the extreme left of the rectangle: one can read, as best as one can:
Again, this O
is an oval, rather than a O.
This text is definitely located outside of the “interior” of the engraving. Again, why is the question.
A precise relief, after cleaning
versions in circulation, we provide a fifth one, which is more conform to the
original than all four previous versions, but which should definitely not be
(ab)used to overlay it on maps – for it is not a 100% accurate rendering – if
anything can ever be.
Furthermore, the rendering was done based on the photographs that were taken after the surface was cleaned. As mentioned, a 100% conform mould will be done in the future. We would like to add that when discovered, the inscription was about two-thirds invisible, and covered by lichen and wild-growing vegetation. Although cleaned, no chemicals that would have a detrimental effect on the rock were used. Furthermore, the vegetation itself was as much as possible preserved – not primarily out of regard for our environment, but largely to make sure that it could easily be moved and repositioned, hence obscuring the cleaned rock surface underneath. Furthermore, over the past few months, no-one has gone to this site, so that nature was able to “repossess” ownership over the secrecy of this site – as no doubt, this series of articles is going to send over a horde of people whom are often those who should not go over there. But this period of “grace” between taking the photographs and publishing them, was important so that other traces of human activity would disappear – as well as allowing the discoverers to speak to the relevant authorities about their discovery.
Reconstruction from the engravings, proposed by one of the authors reporting on the stone previously:
IN + MEDIO
Tracing from the stone itself:
I IA M SAT
I I NA
We would like to thank the group of Catalan researchers for entrusting us with their information, and specifically José Donorgues, Roderic Caruana and Luis Manderra.
No photographs can be used without prior, written consent.