Rennes-le-Château and Rennes-les-Bains

Rennes-le-Château and Rennes-les-Bains

Villerouge-la-Crémade

A Roman Brick Oven
This hamlet is situated overlooking the Couiza/Narbonne road - today's D613.

  One day, I was coming back with my friend Jaap from researching Roman routes across the Corbières and I saw the outline of the château of Villerouge in the distance.  "I've always wanted to see there," I said.  "Well, why not go there now?" said Jaap.

  This hamlet is part of the commune of Fabrezan.  We arrived and found there was hardly anything left of the medieval castle, but a delightful chapel was there and I was sure it was of Visigothic origin.
 
The castle remains, the chapel of St. Etienne and below, the view from the chapel of the D611 road, which is an old Roman route passing from Couiza, through Mouthoumet, to Narbonne.

While we were looking at the chapel we met a man called Pierre Troupe who told us there were Roman remains at Villerouge-la-Crémade and offered to show them to us.  But we had no time!  Quickly I took Pierre's number and I returned the following week, with my friend Nicole.
  Finding this brick oven was the challenge to meet all challenges!  It was at the foot of the château in a ravine, covered by winter's dead vegetation and runnels caused by the winter rain!  We had to climb over fallen tree trucks and climb up and down holding onto the nearby vegetation.  Neither Nicole nor myself would give up and admit the going was too tough, we made it somehow!  But Pierre had lived here since he was a boy; it was easier for him.

We saw all the hot-air outlets and we found remains of bricks on the ground.
 
  The interior walls were in good condition.  Two thousand years old!

  Pierre told us that nearby, to the south of the village, roof-tiles and fragments of pottery had been found, showing that a villa was situated there.
  It was obvious that a Roman settlement had been here, serving the Roman brick-making industry, beside the old road between Narbonne and Mouthoumet. 

  Maybe the Visigoths had come later and made a chapel for their workers, as was their habit (You can see it also at Padern.)  The ruined castle at Villerouge-la-Crémade was medieval but no records of it exist.  But the name "-de-Crémade" indicates that the village was burnt. Simon de Montfort?  The Protestants of 1577?  We don't know.
  The brick oven and the villa are known to archeologists for an entry appeared in the archeological map of the Narbonne area for 1966 and 1993.  They think the oven made roof-tiles rather than bricks.
  For myself, I want to return to see the chapel, I've heard that it has original 12th century frescos on the wall, never renovated.  I like the old chapels of our region, this one dates from Visigothic times.  Beside it was a small private cemetary with great house-like tombs made by the local aristocracy - and statues of angels.
 
  The chapel is only open one day a year, it said on the door, but one can ask for the key at the Mairie in Fabrezan to go and see it. 

For more details about how the Romans made bricks and amphores in their ovens,  click here.



17/03/2016
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