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Pierre-aux-Dames (Musée d'art et d'histoire)

Cup and Ring Marks / Rock Art

<b>Pierre-aux-Dames (Musée d'art et d'histoire)</b>Posted by ChanceImage © Chance
Latitude:46° 7' 12" N
Longitude:   6° 9' 7.2" E

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Fieldnotes

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Pierre-aux-Dames - Musée d'art et d'histoire

Visited 17 September 2008

South of Geneva lies the small municipality of Troinex. This area was absorbed into Savoy in 1754 to become Troinex Savoy, before returning to Geneva in 1815. A treaty was signed on 30 May 1817, making Troinex an independent municipality. During this period an official census of the region was conducted and 1819 finds the first recorded account of the Pierre-aux-Dames.
Several prehistoric monuments were recorded including a large mound with the Pierre-aux-Dames resting upon it's top, accompanied by two or three other megaliths.

In 1877, the area began to be developed with roads and building plots. The mound was cut into revealing seven tombs dating from the late Bronze Age. According to the discoverers, whose excavations are poorly documented, the graves contained the bodies of a man and several women. It is unclear if the mound was completely destroyed at this point but the megalith was classified as a historic monument in 1921 and has been "maintained" at the Museum of Art and History in Geneva, since 1942.

The 2.5 meter long stone rests in the inner courtyard of the Museum and has doubled up as a water outlet for the garden. It is difficult to imagine how the stone originally rested on the mound as its base has now been levelled with concrete.

The municipality of Troinex asked for it's return, but the Museum refused on the grounds of security, so in 1998, a high-quality copy was commissioned by the female mayor, M I Beatrice Luscher and created by sculptor, Lukas Grogg. This copy, as well as two other small megaliths, stand outside the Troinex town hall, the Place de la Mairie, on Chemin de la Grand Cour 2, 1256.
Chance Posted by Chance
15th January 2011ce

Folklore

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Found you a little bit Chance, for your lovely carved stone. But sounds like whatever curses worked at the time they didn't last enough to stop it being moved in the end.
Not very long ago the authorities of Geneva conceived the idea of carrying away, and placing in the Botanic Garden of the city, the great Druid Stone of Troinex, known as the Pierre aux Dames. The project went so far that a trench was dug about the block, rollers were on the spot, and the removal was about to begin, when the people of the neighbourhood raised such an outcry and besought the Council of State so earnestly to let the stone be, that the order was countermanded, and the Pierre aux Dames of Troinex still remains undisturbed where it has lain for unnumbered ages.

It used to believed in days gone by (and the belief probably still lingers in the remoter parts of the Pays de Gex) that the Pierre aux Dames, an the three Druid stones between Versonnex and Grelly, were thrown thither in sport by the giants who, according to tradition, once dwelt in the fastnesses of the Jura. Another legend has it that the giants placed the stones in their present situation to protect the treasures which are supposed to be buried at immeasurable depths underneath them. These treasures are further and more effectually guarded by the giants' curse, which will pursue anybody who attempts to destroy or remove the stones; and it is a well known fact that evil has never failed to befall the reprobates who have dared to lay unhallowed hands on these mysterious relics of the past.
From 'Tales and Traditions of Switzerland' by W B Westall (1882).

Also there is a long-winded tale about a stone at Versonnex in the same chapter.
Rhiannon Posted by Rhiannon
15th January 2011ce
Edited 15th January 2011ce

Switzerland has very little, if any, folklore concerning megalithic sites. This is because the tribes that lived in the area adopted a scorched earth policy and destroyed all their villages before beginning their doomed mass migration in 58 B.C.. When Julius Caesar burned the bridge of Geneva, to stop the advance of the Helvetii, the area around Troinex would have been trashed too.

See - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Helvetii

The Pierre-aux-Dames is a mystery of this period. The four sculpted figures are attributed to the Gallo-Roman period due to their dress, the use of metal tools and the craftsmanship employed. That said, the mound and the tombs were clearly placed in the late Bronze Age which could have been 1,000 years earlier. It may be possible that the stone was sculpted by Greek or Mediterranean stone masons commissioned specially for the task. Alternatively, the sculpture may have been produced after the Roman conquest of the area by descendants of the Helvetii in order to preserve the memory of their ancestors.

Whatever the truth behind the Pierre-aux-Dames, modern myths are being created about the fertility of the soil and the grapes that are grown to produce wine in the area.
Chance Posted by Chance
15th January 2011ce

Links

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Des mégalithes, des légendes et des dieux By Jean-François Kister


Exerts from Google books, in French, with reference to Pierre-aux-Dames showing excavation photos from 1877
Chance Posted by Chance
15th January 2011ce