SILENCE IS GOLDEN

At AURIAC

Itineray type : Foot

Description :

All that glitters is not gold! In the shadow of the Auriac castle, this little jaunt (“Petite vadrouille”) will make you discover some of the nuggets of the local territory: ore, flora, fauna, etc.

Descriptif détaillé :

The hike
Cairn (1) The Gassotte medieval mine, aka as the “Mont-Marcus” mine.
Situated at 300 meters from the village, on the north-eastern slope of Mont-Marcus, surrounded by copse and holm oak. A very ancient mine, known since the Gallo-Roman era. Operational since the Middle-Ages up to the beginning of the 20th century. Baryte, copper and silver used to be extracted. The ores were sold to the Salsigne mine, where they were treated.
Cairn (2) According to the engineer Vène, the closure of the mine and the end of all activities thereto related have more to do with the then owner’s lack of technical savoir faire than a possible shortage of capital. The anarchic way in which the mine was run quite quickly led to a situation in which it became impossible to further exploit its capacities.
Cairn (3) Surrounded by the peace and quiet of the undergrowth, you may be able to hear, perhaps even see, some of the local fauna. Ash and beech, Scots pine, juniper, wild fruit trees, holm oak: this is the favourite biological habitat of the wild boar. Here, it finds its calm and its food. If you take this hike in the springtime, walking uphill towards the ‘serre de Peyrièro’, you will surely pass through an area dotted with orchids (! Protected species, not to be culled !)
Cairn (4) Do not expect to find any gold nuggets at the ‘serre de Peyrièro’. What you will find, though, is baryte (a mineral consisting of barium sulphate), which was exploited at the Mieloubret site until the 1950s. From the ‘serre de Peyrièro’, continue to the ancient Lauradieu mine.
Cairn (5) “A Laurio, l’Or il y a. A Lauradieu, l’Or adieu”. (“In Laurio, you may find gold. In Lauradieu, you’ll take leave of it.” Translator’s note: French wordplay on the names of the localities and presence of the precious metal.)
Several legends exist pertaining to the precious metal which is supposed to have been present in this mine. But actually it’s copper and silver that were dug up until 1854. A prehistoric gold ring is said to have been found in a nearby cave. While you’re on the steep path from Lauradieu to Laurio, rock on one side, gorge on the other, you get a glimpse of the castle ahead in the distance. Before you reach the Laurio stream, you’ll cross a fallow plot of land with some heather and wild fruit trees here and there.
Cairn (6) From time immemorial, mankind has been looking for gold, but no vein is known to have been found in Auriac. Nevertheless, the precious metal is there: specks can regularly be found amongst the alluvia of the streams. The local toponymy is quite revealing: Laurio, Lauriol, Orbieu. Gold is present in quartz or other sorts of ore. The Laurio stream cools down the hazelnut, ash and dogwood trees which gently lean over its banks, coloured, in springtime, by wild lily of the valley.
Cairn (7) Dating back to the 10th and early 11th century, the castle is the southern keep of Termenès, between the valleys of the Orbieu and the Verdouble. The towers and corps de logis which date back to the 14th century, are indicative of the “vie de château” as opposed to the poverty of the village, always sparsely populated. This no doubt owing to the revenues from the mines.
From 15 to 30 houses between the Middle-Ages and the Ancien Régime, the population suddenly soared to 277 inhabitants in 1834, at the time when the mines were fully operational, to plummet to a scanty 35 residents these days.
Additional information
The castle
After about 100 meters (up to the IGN mark 585), you have a superb clear view on the castle.
Built on the edge of a ridge towering over the gorges of the Orbieu, this castle’s legacy are the remains of a square donjon and its cistern.
A high polygon-shaped wall protects the inside as well as the seigneurial dwelling, which has a turret presumably dating back to the 13th century.

N° d'urgence depuis un portable : 112

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