The bordermarkers of the Pyrenees : all my trips
Print this page

- friday 31 may 2013 -
Jan-Willem discovers bm196

previous trip      next trip
Summary: a seven-days trip with Jan-Willem with a lot of targets in the Basque country and around Llivia.

Day 1: the undigging of bm196 and visiting the recently resurrected bm092.

Weather: rainy

Our basecamp is the camping municipal in Saint-Étienne-de-Baïgorry.

The previous day we drove from Holland to this camping in one go.
Trip 1

A final try to find bm196. In the previous years there have been numerous visits to the site and last year (see this page) I started to dig.

Farmers showed me the spot and affirmed its subterranean existence since the mid-seventies of the 19th century.

This has been an very important picture so far, coming from the Aragon topographic site Sitna
(Idena ortofoto color 1-1000)

It was taken before 2006, before the construction of the parking lot.
Combining all the information I gathered so far, the probable spot of the buried bm196 had becomes more precise.

Last year's last information: bm196 was not at the left gate-post but at the right gate-post. That was what two passing farmers told me.

They showed both the same spot where I dug a hole, without finding bm196.

The hole I dug last year is still there and that's where we start. 

The giant billboard has disappeared but it's 'legs' are still in the ground.

Jan-Willem is putting our two spades in those leg-holes
as you can see also on this picture.
When studying the aerial photo above and re-estimating the several distances on it between billboard,  car and meadow-gate, we think we have to dig 1 meter to the left.
Changing turns, we proceed slowly in the dense, rocky soil.
The hoe of Jan-Willem father-in-law proves to be indispensable.
One of the legs of the removed billboard
And finally we struck the edge of a large square block!

but Jan-Willem is the one who first struck and recognized the edge.

The honour of discovering bm196 is for him, he deserves it.
It takes hard labor to uncover all 4 sides of this almost square (51,5 x 54cm) block with a (low) diamond-shaped top.
To undig it so far to check the number is far beyond our capacities, the soil being much too dense/rocky.
I take a lot of pictures
The dimensions and shape remind me
a lot of the previous bordermarkes in this region: massive, square, elevated top
The block is in one line with the 3 blocks of the balustrade.
But is this really bm196?

Well, I was pretty sure this is bm196. Why?

- its location fits within all the clues that we had (Jean Sermet, aerial pictures, the two farmers of last year)
- its top resembles the ‘diamond-shape’ which Jean Sermet described
- that top resembles very much the top of the previous bordermarkers bm186-195
- it's a large one, a bit larger even than the previous bordermarkers bm186-195 (their sizes known from Javier Martínez Ruiz' article: see literature-list). Both Jean Sermet and the farmers of last year mentioned its largeness
-  its material construction look very much alike many of the bm’s in the range 158-195: a sort of mixture of pebbles/stones and cement with an outer layer of grey cement.
-  I can’t think of any other reasonable use of this object (anyway too large and lacking a hole for being the base for a gate-post).
You can see on this picture that bm196 is in one line with the balustrade.
And also on this picture.
And now the distances between bm196 and the balustrade and the legs of the disapeared billboard:

Two months later - on july 31th - I was very happy to receive pictures of Anne-Marie Bats and Bernadette. They have continued where Jan-Willem and I had to stop and delivered the ultimate evidence:

Trip 2

A drive up to a rainy & windy Col d'Ispeguy to take a picture of the recently resurrected bm092.

From the col, it's a short climb S straight through a steep forest to its edge
 where bm092 is soon visible
close to a bordercross 92 on a rock in the ground.

Back at the col and redoing bm091


Bm091, note the peculiar construction to the left.

The venta nearby is dry & warm and serves a well deserved "grand café crème" for both of us.
previous trip      next trip