Romanesque Church Hunt Looking for churches and other France adventures.

May 25, 2007

Back to Clansayes

Filed under: Dolmens & Other Archeological Tidbits,Drome - Churches — Karen @ 10:37 pm

Finally it’s time to go into Clansayes in detail. This tiny town is just chock-a-block full of interesting things and promises a full day of enjoyable exploration.clansayestower.jpg
First, let’s talk about the mammoth tower. Clansayes is perched on a rocky outcrop, a strategic advantage in the wild and wooly dark ages. This tower was built in . Solidly constructed, it remains almost totaly intact. It is topped by a gigantic statue of the Virgin Mary which was placed there in 1853 by devout villagers.

Adjacent to the tower is the 11th century Eglise de St Michel, a prime Romanesque specimen.
Wandering around the village, there is also an interesting wall carved drawing of a cat, who’s origins are a source of debate.


<>We can also hope to see traces of Roman roads that are nearby.

Following a tour of the village, we can embark on a 1.5 hour hike to walk over to the next hilltop, viewable from the village, where Knights Templar, in the 13th century, built a charming chapel which today is the site of a yearly pilgrimage. The walking tour follows in the next post which goes from the village to this spot. See more pix of this amazing place in the walking tour post.Also on the hilltop are a 19th century shrine and a well in rough stone construction.Clansayes is truly an adventure!

Following the “more” is some detailed history of Clansayes. Clansayes has been occupied since prehistoric times and many of the vestiges of these 10.000 years of human presence still attest to that fact.


At the beginning of the Neolithic era (10.000 years front B.C.), tribes become sedentary and moved to the plateau of Rouergue where one finds traces of dry stone walls. Also showing this ancient past are Megaliths — the binoculars of Rozet are made up of two stone discs 8 m in diameter posed vertically accompanied by basins and tombs. The bored rock (known as loop of ear of Gargantua) is a cube of 6 m by 6m bored in its top and comprising many cups. The village itself was inhabited as of the time of bronze as shown by archeological fragments. Some of these fragments might be corridors or staircases and most notably, “the room with the three niches” which could be a place of worship, cut in the rock with the tine of stag.

Ligurian Occupation to Gallo-Roman

Walls cut in the rock behind the cemetery points out the presence of a Liigurian village on the plateau. “Les Voies Romanes” which are certainly older than than lets suppose their denomination. Two parallel lines are dug in the rock between which cells of efforts are cut regularly.

A suburb of powerful Augustatricastinorum (St Paul-Trois-Chateaux), Clansayes sheltered at the time Gallo-Roman five rustic villas. On this villa site remainders of tagulae were found were found, as well as bricks and small bronzes.

Birth of “Clansayes” and the medieval time:

It is into 1023 that the name of CLANSAYES is written on a charter of the abbey of Cluny and on August 4, 1164 a donation with the Templiers is signed in “Clarencaias” with like witness Ugo Sacerdos of Clarencaias. It is a question since 1233 of the castle of Clansayes in the cartulaire of St Paul-Three-Castles. It is starting from XII°siècle that will be built the donjon* and the Romance church **.

The keep is surrounded by a dry ditch where remain still the traces of the drawbridge.

Wars of religion in Clansayes:

During the wars of religion, Clansayes is besieged and taken at least twice by the Protestant troops of the Duke of Lesdiguières. In Christmas 1561 Huguenots de Saint Paul Three Castles plunder the cathedral and cut down all the crosses of the area of which those of Clansayes.

A destroying earthquake:

In June 1772, Clansayes is the epicentre of an earthquake which lasted until December 1773. Louis XV sends scientist FAUJAS OF ST MELTS which notes all the jolts, days, hours, intensity… It is one of the first seisms which is studied. The village is interdict during 10 years and only will remain upright two turns and the church.

Rebirth of the village

With the 19° century, the houses are rebuilt as the land register of the 1810 then village again attests it éteind after the war of 1914. Vers 1970, the village reappears little by little, the ruins are rectified or are cut down. In 2002 the town hall is restored and village places it takes the name of Bertrand de Clansayes, bishop-count of Saint-Paul-Three-Castles who took part in the council of Lyon en1274 and made a pilgrimage in Jerusalem. The keep: The keep would have been started with the XI XII ° centuries and the covered way towards XIV°siècle. In 1555, Gaucher Adhémar in its inventory quotes “a tower on 4 floors with Clansayes”. In 1686, the count de Grignan François Adhémar de Monteil, lord of Clansayes states to have a tower serving to him as “prison”. In 1853, the Monier abbot with his parishioners decides to build a statue with the virgin on the keep, carved by 2 monks of Aiguebelle and in 1858 a Notre Dame vault of the tower is devoted there.

The church

The Romanesque church dates from the XII° century, but the principal church was that of Strands which one knows that it was rebuilt by the Ugolin chaplain in 1206. Strand was a small commandery of Templiers which was yielded to the Knights of Saint Jean de Jerusalem. In 1644, at the time of a visit with Clansayes of the bishop François Adhémar de Monteil, this one authorizes the construction of the two vaults (chapels?) of the church.

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