Monday, 2 May 2011

Lantern of the Dead - Cognac-la-Forêt

I did a post on the village of Cognac-la-Forêt  last year see HERE.   In that post, I mentioned the Lantern of the Dead monument  at the cemetery, which I did not get to see.   I have now visited it, so the story can be completed.  French cemeteries are always  well kept and often very beautiful, with many large monumental crypts, where whole families are buried.  I have taken several photos around the cemetery, to illustrate this point for those of you who have not visited France.

The notice pictured below has been erected at the bottom of the monument.  My friend Sébastien from Paris has translated it as it is written, so any strangeness perceived in the text must be laid at the door of the writer of the original!!.
Lantern of the Dead

Built in the 12th or 13th century, it was classified as a historical monument on 10 May 1939. With a height of 6.5 metresits 900mm wide sides face the four cardinal compass pointsIts construction is elegantly simple. Each face is completed by the thickness of the stone which forms the next side. The alternating joints of each course produce an attractive decorative effect.

Its corners are decorated by four slim columns, whose capitals support the pyramidal roof. Until the nineteenth century, it was founded on a platform of four steps, and at sunset the monument was used as an altar for funeral ceremonies. The door opened to the east, which allowed the mounting of the  beacon in the lantern.

In the Middle Ages, the inhabitants of the area showed great respect for the dead. That beacon was the symbol of the Christian faith, watching over the dead and protecting them.
Lantern of the Dead
The view of the cemetery from the entrance with the Lantern of the Dead seen in the background.
The small church to the the left of the entrance.
A slightly closer view, further in from the entrance. The Lantern of the Dead is in the background, with a private crypt just in front of it.
Above and below; views of many of the the private crypts with the Lantern of the Dead still very visible in the background.

To lighten this post a little, these two horses were just outside the entrance gates enjoying the grass.

78 comments:

  1. Interesting post Daine. Love the horses and the well mannered dog! Wish I was your neighbor and visit you too! Cheers!!!

    ReplyDelete
  2. The people of the middle ages went through a lot of care and trouble for their dead. No small task building that monument. Lovely graveyard and loved the horses "guarding" the entrance!

    ReplyDelete
  3. So different from a cemetary in the UK!

    ReplyDelete
  4. michelangelo I would love you to visit, I could learn how to carve vegetables :-) Diane

    ReplyDelete
  5. Liesl, yes the horses lightened the moment. Even today the French still build crypts and monuments. As you can see from my photos many have fresh flowers on them and are very well cared for. Diane

    ReplyDelete
  6. What a romantic spot to explore....not only the latern but the cemetary itself as well. Beautiful too...

    ReplyDelete
  7. Indie Tea, I have never thought of a cemetery as being romantic but it is a beautiful place I have to agree. Diane

    ReplyDelete
  8. Hooray! Diane's back with hour wonderful tours! And pretty horses to top it off. Good thing for all of us that you found a translator.

    ReplyDelete
  9. I love exploring old cemetaries. The horses are pretty!

    ReplyDelete
  10. This reminds me of the Cemeteries of New Orleans. But Lantern of the Dead if very classy looking. I always thought that cemeteries are one of the best kept places on earth.

    Enjoyed the pictures.

    ReplyDelete
  11. Marjie, Sébastien has been my saviour with translations both ways so often. We met originally via the internet but since we have met.
    I hope to have a bit more time now to get out on my bike and look for interesting villages :-) Diane

    ReplyDelete
  12. Pam the cemeteries here have so much of interest but this one particularly so with the Lantern. Diane

    ReplyDelete
  13. Sailor you are right, I don't think I have ever seen a cemetery that looks really untidy despite the fact that some graves are very old and now uncared for. Diane

    ReplyDelete
  14. Very interesting.
    Have a great day my friend.:-) Hugs Stina

    ReplyDelete
  15. The French do keep their cemeteries beautifully Diane. Our French house had one about 500M behind and they were perfect neighbours in that there was never any noise and they kept the "garden" well!

    ReplyDelete
  16. Hi Diane - I agree the cemeteries I have seen in France have all been extremely well looked after - this on is no exception!
    Thanks for your lovely pics. xx

    ReplyDelete
  17. You're right Diane, the cemeteries in France are worth visiting!
    Are works of art!!!
    Thank you for the interesting tour!
    Bonjour

    ReplyDelete
  18. I love this post, Diane. It's so full of interesting information...thank you for sharing it with us!

    ReplyDelete
  19. Thanks Stina, you have a good day as well. Take care. Diane

    ReplyDelete
  20. Craig I wish I had neighbours like that in the UK!!! We have the nosiest most thoughtless neighbours possible :-( Diane

    ReplyDelete
  21. Dianne I am fascinated by the cemeteries here in France, some of them are quite amazing. Diane

    ReplyDelete
  22. Magda thanks for the visit and the comments. Take care Diane

    ReplyDelete
  23. Faith glad you like this post, it is quite different to the norm but I thought it was of interest. Diane

    ReplyDelete
  24. Such an interesting place!

    ReplyDelete
  25. Love the photos of the lantern - thanks for your comments on my blog.

    ReplyDelete
  26. I have never seen anything like the lantern of the dead before, how interesting.

    ReplyDelete
  27. I usually don't visit graveyards, but after seeing your beautiful photos, maybe I should.

    ReplyDelete
  28. Merci pour cette visite très instructive.
    A très bientôt.

    ReplyDelete
  29. I grew up where cemeteries were cared for and visited on many occasions. The dead were reveared and their stories shared often. Too bad that we don't continue such traditions in our days, in our new worlds.

    ReplyDelete
  30. Cemeteries can be very peaceful places to visit (have you been to Highgate in London?) I love the symbol of the tower here watching over the protecting the buried. Where abouts in France is this?
    Mary

    ReplyDelete
  31. What an interesting place - thank you for sharing!

    ReplyDelete
  32. Interesting!
    but I am not a "cemetery" person!!
    I prefer the horse!! :)
    Have a great evening, Diane!
    XXXX

    ReplyDelete
  33. Peggy Glad you found it interesting. Take care Diane

    ReplyDelete
  34. I remember being fascinated by your original post Diane so thank you for going to so much trouble to revisit and research the Lantern of the Dead.

    French cemeteries are beautifully kept, so are the Italian ones and I took many photos on my recent trip to Amalfi of the lovely cemetery there. I really enjoy your posts of the small villages and sights in your area.

    ReplyDelete
  35. Linda I visited grave yards in the UK when I was doing out family history, it was as interesting then as it is here in France. Diane

    ReplyDelete
  36. Linda I had never heard of the Lantern of the Dead until I looked up Cognac-la-Forêt on the internet after my last visit. I then realised what I had missed on the first visit. It is interesting that they seem to be found mainly in central and West France. There is though one surviving one at Bisley, Gloucestershire, UK. Diane

    ReplyDelete
  37. Nadji, merci pour votre commentaire.
    A très bientôt. Diane

    ReplyDelete
  38. Roasaria, I would never have thought to visit cemeteries until I started the family tree, but I have to admit that they are very peaceful places and some are very interesting. Diane

    ReplyDelete
  39. Mary, no I have not been to Highgate, but I have been to many cemeteries in Kent and the West of England tracking down the family trees. As my blog says, My life in the Charente, and that is where Cognac-la-Forêt is. South Western France. I have just discovered that there is another Lantern of the Dead not too far away so I will try to visit that one as well in the not too distant future. Thanks for your comments. Diane

    ReplyDelete
  40. Cuisine de Provence, glad you found it interesting. Take care. Diane

    ReplyDelete
  41. Noushka horses would always be first on my list as well, but I still find the Lantern of the Dead interesting :-) Diane

    ReplyDelete
  42. Thanks Dolly for your kind comments, I hope that we will get to see the photos you took in Italy. I have just discovered that the is another 'Lantern' not too far from us so I will try and track that down quite soon. take care. Diane

    ReplyDelete
  43. Thanks so much...this was fascinating!

    I loved the cemeteries in Italy too...their tradition of having little lights on the crypts is so wonderful.

    All joys to you,

    Sharon Lovejoy Writes from Sunflower House and a Little Green Island

    ReplyDelete
  44. Happy to be a contributor of wonderful Blog !!!

    ReplyDelete
  45. Very interesting, Diane! And the horses certainly added to it.

    ReplyDelete
  46. What a fascinating post, call me strange but I quite liking visiting cemeteries.

    ReplyDelete
  47. Sharon thanks so much for your vist and your comments. Great to 'meet' you. Love your blog and I will be back to see you. take care Diane

    ReplyDelete
  48. Sébastien I am more than happy for you to contribute any time. Thanks so much for your help. Bonne journée, Diane

    ReplyDelete
  49. Pam I felt the horses made the post a little lighter!! Take care Diane

    ReplyDelete
  50. Muppy some of them are certainly worth visiting, especially some of the very old ones. Have a good day. Diane

    ReplyDelete
  51. I love history lessons, thank you Diane :-)

    ReplyDelete
  52. Half Acre Farm, I hated History at school but now I love it :-) Diane

    ReplyDelete
  53. Wonderful cemetery shots and the Lantern of the Dead is amazing!

    ReplyDelete
  54. Wow very organized and grand setup for the cemetery. Those horses are gorgeous!

    ReplyDelete
  55. chubskulit all the cemeteries are like that in France. Diane

    ReplyDelete
  56. Most interesting post.

    There is no grass to cut and trim, like in our cemeteries.

    I like the two horses...

    ReplyDelete
  57. Great photo's Diane. I've had some time to catch up on your blog. You have been a very busy lady this season. I know the tired feeling, but the barn looks wonderful. Nice you have some time to relax with bloggy friends. You all look so relaxed. Have a great day and again, great job on the barn!!! Susan :)

    ReplyDelete
  58. Wonderful shots, thanks for sharing.

    ReplyDelete
  59. Honest Abe some of them do have a few paths in grass but generally there is little upkeep here! Diane

    ReplyDelete
  60. Neil and Susan thanks for the kind comments. I am pretty pleased with the barn, but I will be even happier when the floor, electrics and walls are in so we have 3 more rooms. Meanwhile the insulation certainly helps the rooms underneath.
    It is amazing how one can keep going until a job is finished and then suddenly tiredness hits you like a stone! Keep well, Diane

    ReplyDelete
  61. Sonia thanks for your visit and comment. Have a good day. Diane

    ReplyDelete
  62. Thanks JM, it was quite a different post but is was interesting doing the research. Diane

    ReplyDelete
  63. Fascinating! I always taken by the tales that could be told by the occupants of these ancient cemeteries. Your photos are terrific. I hope you have a great day. Blessings...Mary

    ReplyDelete
  64. Just found your wonderful blog from Mary at One Perfect bite & am your newest follower!
    - Jessica @ http://cajunlicious.com

    ReplyDelete
  65. With 64 comments, you must spend a lot of time in front of the computer. (Love this post).

    ReplyDelete
  66. Am a bit confused about the comment about the well mannered dog Diane - enlighten me!!!
    xx

    ReplyDelete
  67. Mary it would be interesting I am sure to be able to speak to the 'ghosts' of some of these people especially as many of them around this area would have belonged to the resistance. Take care Diane

    ReplyDelete
  68. cajunlicious thanks so much for your visit and for following. Great to 'meet' you. A Bientôt, Diane

    ReplyDelete
  69. Nadege I seriously limit my time on my blog as I have been so busy. I am trying to keep up with it but it is not always easy!! My blogs have certainly got further apart I am afraid but........ Glad you enjoyed the post. Diane

    ReplyDelete
  70. Roz you must have missed the previous post about Lulu. LOL Diane

    ReplyDelete
  71. Some great photos here. I especially like the ones of the flowers on top of the crypts because of the "pops" of colour against the grey. Have a great weekend, Diane.

    ReplyDelete
  72. Thanks Joyful, there always seems to be plenty of colour in most of the cemeteries here. People are not forgotten. Diane

    ReplyDelete
  73. Oh my, this is such a cripy place! But very clean & tidy indeed.
    Kristy

    ReplyDelete
  74. My Little Space, the cemeteries here are not creepy at all. They are beautifully kept and very tranquil places. Diane

    ReplyDelete
  75. The Lantern of the Dead - that's a beautiful name. I love the idea of a good light guiding the departed souls safely to the next life. Very comforting. :)

    ReplyDelete
  76. Life for Beginners, I agree it is beautiful, it has a comforting sound to it. I have since discovered there more around this area I just need to get out and track them down. Diane

    ReplyDelete

Thanks for taking the time to visit and pass a comment. Every comment is appreciated and I try to reply to each and every one. All comments are verification free but will come to me for approval first :-)) No Anonymous Users!