Codification of decoration steles

Steles Airoux
Steles de Baraigne
Steles Casses
Steles Cumies
Stele La Barthe
Stele Labecede
Stele Marquein

Stele Molleville
Steles Montferrand
Steles Montmaur
Steles Ricaud
Steles Souilhanels
Steles Soupex
Steles St Michel de Lanes

Mainly based on the work of Pierre Ucla, Leo Beard, and Michel Richard JClaude Passelac, who first established a codification and an analytical table of all discoid steles of Languedoc, the following lines will be confined as much as it may, a more esoteric archaeological study of these monuments. But I hope that this document will answer your questions. Happy reading.


The discoid steles are primarily funerary monuments that marked the graves of some of our ancestors the last millennium. The cross was the main decorative motif for this highly religious symbol, millions of men died.
These are stones erected on the graves from the Middle Ages. They were planted on the side of the head of the deceased.
It seems that the Basque Country has been the cradle of this custom, when the Church began to be well established and abundant documentation attesting to the presence of at least the tenth century dice.
Tombe avec stéle discoïdale
Why discoidal ? - It seems that the key issue is the relationship of the stele and the wheel. Grinding wears very quickly limestone grinding and maintenance sufficient to hold in each village, the tailor specialized stone surface rises and gives relief to the notches.
A resolution of 1495 Consulate Foix provides valuable element in this hypothesis: flying at that time in Foix tombstones in the cemetery to make wheels. It is obviously discoid, where most of the work was done. And if you became the geographical location can not fail to notice that the discoid steles are usually found in predominantly grain-producing regions.

Cathars? - The date and location of these stelae and some symbolic features (equal-armed cross, beaded cross of Languedoc) Déodat Roche led to the hypothesis that it was Cathar monuments. A disturbing coincidence, steles of the same type were found in Bulgaria in Sofia region where Bogomilism (origin of Catharism), was born. But these steles are in fact the nineteenth century.
A systematic study, such as that made ​​by Georg Wild, does not accept this assumption.
We can rule out any connection between these monuments and the Cathars.
In fact:
- When you can date them, they are after the period in which the Cathars could have Graves.
- If the number is high Lauragais, they also occur in areas where catarisme never entered or very little (Basque Country, Chalosse, Gascony, Sweden ...)
- If these monuments were known as Cathar by the people and clergy of the time, they would never have come down to us in an area where the Inquisition was to exhume the bodies and destroy them homes.
- The Cathars cemeteries which are illusion historical sources are in Town Views where we did not find any discoid like Puylaurens.
- The arguments based on the symbolic ornamentation are entirely free. They have also led several authors indefensible generalizations or approximations such as wrought iron cross of the Haute Ariege presented as Cathar solely because they are fleurdelysées, then they go back up to the seventeenth century.


Geographical location - Perfectly characterized, there are discoid steles in Etruscan cemeteries of Bologna in Italy, christian Syria in Spain pre-Roman and Gallo-Roman times, the Middle Ages in Catalonia, Portugal, Basque Country Xe century to the present day, in Westphalia, Sweden (twelfth century), the Maghreb to the present day. And of course in France Vaison (Vaucluse), in Gascony near the Basque Country, in the Gers Gascogne, in Moissac (Tarn et Garonne), Mende (Lozère), in the Aveyron and the Lauragais we limit this study. (6)
Les stèles d'Espagne

The steles of Lauragais, for almost all, gathered in cemeteries and churches around. There are still some along roads or walls farms. The use of modern graves is common. They are found in post cemeteries during the Revolution.
The majority of stelae Lauragais is within 20 km of Castelnaudary.
A Belper, St Michel de Lanes, Pexiora, Montferrand Baraigne and The Broken, the stelae were grouped to avoid damage and make easy their observation.

Location steles - Any steles recorded no longer in its place of origin, but formal evidence show that the most important collections were discovered in abandoned cemeteries today, as Carcassonne (Cemetery St Michel) Montferrand Pexiora and others.
So there is no doubt that these funerary steles, Christian by their decoration.(5)


From the count of fifteen studies on this subject, from that of Dusan in 1866, the archaeologist Pierre Ucla (7) conducted field research that led him to trace 175 headstones in 52 places of the Aude.
It was imperative that classification and codification was established, here are the results to be compared with analytical tables codes steles each municipality.



Do not think that "all is said and comes too late." Recent examples show that even steles discovered in the region, and steles that were missing are found.
We must seek, question. Given the many flights recorded, it seems essential that any monument is sealed so inviolable, and perhaps these relics of the past are concentrated in places where surveillance is best served the vicinity, rather in the center of the town in a remote cemetery.
So these steles were apparently he fell into oblivion for a few centuries, they can be permanently saved and compete, a significant way to understand the history of a region that still has so much to show us.

(1) Daniel BONHOURE – Avignonet Lauragais – SI, MJC et Commune d’Avignonet 1989.
(2) Docteur Charles Boyer - Excursion Archéologique dans la Piège Baraigne 1933
(3) MB Marty-Jeanjean - Vilatges Al Pais dans la Piège - Conseil Général de L'Aude 1997
(4) René NELLI - Les Cathares - Ed. Ouest France 1980
(5) RICHARD-BARBE-UCLA-PASSELAC - Les Stèles discoïdales - Archéologie en Langudoc 1980
(6) Jean DUVERNOY - La Religion des Cathares - Le Catharisme - Privat 1976
(7) The archaeologist Pierre Ucla unfortunately died in a car accident.

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