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  • I had passed the small, brown, almost invisible signs pointing to the Tumulus de St Seline over several days, but as there were only fields surrounding the tree lined road, I hadn't given it much thought

    It was getting late into my holiday, only a day or two left, and I was heading back to the camp site through the small village of St Seline when I spotted the brown Tourist Information sign, Tumulus de St Seline, 2km. "Ok" I thought, "Lets go find it", after all, I had seen the sign pointing to it several times.

    The road was a typical French rural road. No traffic. However, even going slowly and actively looking for the Tumulus and it's sign post, I still managed to miss it and had to turn round and go back.

    When I found the sign it, I still could not see the tumulus, despite the indication of it's presence. I turned off the road onto what could barely even be described as a track. The grass was so long, I took it easy for fear of what potholes or rocks the grass may hide. The track only lasted for about 10 or 20 metres, then turned left into a clearing that served as a car park. And there, right in front of me was the Tumulus.

    It consisted of a long row of stones set into an elongated mound with an open entrance, left of centre. Between where I had stopped and the Tumulus was a faded and broken information board, which probably did provide information at one time.

    I grabbed my camera and a small torch and with a hint of Indiana Jones in the air, went exploring.

    Just past the main Tumulus was another entrance to a second tumulus which was overgrown with weeds and brambles. The roof had collapsed into the central chamber. Where it had collapsed, it was strewn with the detritus of teenage indulgences, beer cans, vodka bottles and empty Rizla wrappers.

    I finished wandering around the exterior of the Tumuli, then headed for the main entrance.

    Based on what I have since read about these constructions, it would appear that this was built between 4500 and 3700 BC and is possibly Neolithic. It's original purpose was a burial, or grave site.

    The entrance was narrow, low and dark. Switching on the torch, I headed in. I had to stoop over so much, I was almost doubled over, and it was little more than shoulder width. The entrance was dusty and seemed well maintained and had no sign of rubbish or vandalism. The stony floor was well worn. After a few metres, it opened into the main chamber, probably about 6 or 7 metres in diameter, and high enough to stand upright. Without the torch, it was pitch black. You could not see your hand in front of your face, and the slightly curving tunnel allowed no light into the chamber.

    There was little else to look at. I couldn't find any evidence of carvings in the stones, so after a few photos, I headed back to the car.

    Recently, a couple of fellow Cowbirders, Pam and Sarah, commented on my photos on facebook, suggesting I write about this Tumulus and the entrance tunnel. After saying how tight the tunnel was, Sarah commented 'Like being birthed'.

    Now, sitting here, thinking while I write this, I hadn't quite fully grasped the depth of Sarah's comment. I may not have been Indiana Jones, but I did discover real treasure in Sarah's words.

    When we are born into this world, we struggle out of our mothers chamber, through an entrance barely large enough for us to fit. Perhaps, the tight, narrow, curved, entrances to these burial mounds serve as a metaphor for returning back to the womb, back to the earth.

    "For you were made of dust, and to dust you shall return" (Genesis 3:19)
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