Illustrated Guide to Rennes-le-Chateau No2

Ben Hammott's Illustrated Guide to Rennes-le-Chateau No1 and 2 - Now also available for Digital Download

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Ben Hammott's Discoveries Album - Also available for Digital Download

Lost Tomb of the Knights Templar by Ben Hammott

Lost Tomb of the Knights Templar by Ben Hammott

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Over 660 Pages and over 300 Images

33 Cartes Postale l’Abbé Saunière

33 Postcards of l’Abbé Saunière

Saunière's 33 Rennes-le-Chateau Postcards

Saunière's 33 Rennes-le-Chateau Postcards (Reproductions



Sauniere's Basilisks and 3 John & Jesus Statues

Murder of Abbé Antoine Gélis


Ben Hammott Answers 17 Questions

The Devil's Armchair + Source du Circle

A Second Pontils Tomb

Saunière's Angels - German Newspapers

Sauniere's Altar Pillar


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Ben Hammott's Illustrated Guide to Rennes-le-Chateau No1 and 2 - Available as Printed or Digital Download

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On the hill of Rennes-le-Chateau exists an old mine that is accessed from Esperaza.


Mine Entrance and the possible 1891 Inscription above it

The inscription on the keystone seems to read 1891, which is interesting as Sauniere seems to have made some important discoveries this year. However I doubt if this mine was pivotal to anything Sauniere found but any tunnel leading into the hill of Rennes le Chateau is certainly worth checking out. The '1', if that is what it is, is shaped like a 'J' with a looping tail that seems to form another letter. Alternatively the '1' or 'J' could be the left side of a letter, an 'H' perhaps. So it could be '189 H' and perhaps a mine reference number.

This mine has a large quantity of crystal that over the years had formed up to 1inch think sheets of crystal that had grown from the roof and sides of the tunnel to form barriers. These crystal barriers trapped water and mud formed against them. When the crystal sheets had been broken through the mud banks that had formed prevented the water from draining leaving a series of islands. The mud beneath the water was very deep in places so prevented anyone from simply walking through. A few years ago someone tried traversing the tunnel in a polystyrene boat.

Poystyrene Boat

The large Polystyrene Boat stopped by a high mud bank can be seen from the mine entrance

However due to the height of some of the mud banks the polystyrene boat was too large to fit through. There is a short clip of this boat being paddled into the start of the tunnel on the web.

Because of the abundance of crystal we have named it the Crystal Cave.


Our first trip into the Crystal Cave was towards the end of 2009. I had borrowed a dingy from a friend so we could paddle across the stretches of water between the mud banks. The dingy seemed ideal as it was easily transported and small and light enough to be carried over the blockages easily.

However, after taking the dingy to the mine and pumping it up we found there was a small leak around one of the seals. As it was only a small leak we were not unduly worried. But we were about to push the two man dingy to its limits. Its passengers would be me, Rat Scabies, a camera woman, Pat and Ronny. Five in total and a very tight squeeze.

Although the water looks deceivingly inviting in the polystyrene boat image above, in reality it is far different. The water is not very deep, varying from a few inches to a couple of feet further in the cave. But below the water is a layer of thick mud that ranges from a few inches to very deep and would make swimming all put impossible in much of the cave.

After wading through the first patch of slimy mud we all stood on the first island, which was about two foot wide.

Rennes-le-Chateau Crystal Cave 7

"Its this way," calls out Pat eager to continue as us reluctant amateurs slip off our shoes and socks and dip our toes into the cold slimy mud.

Now all we had to do was try and fit five adults in the small two man leaking dingy. After a bit of jostling we were all in and Pat and Ronny paddled us towards the next mud bank by the abandoned polystyrene boat. It took but a couple of minutes and on reaching this first obstacle we now all had to clamber out onto the small slippery pile of earth. The dingy was then manhandled over and plopped into the water on the other side. Ahead was another mud bank. We all clambered into the dingy again and headed onwards. We were all bare footed and as we climbed out onto the next mud pile we realized what a mistake this was, as the mud was impregnated with sharp shards of crystal that sliced at our feet. To cut a long story short we persevered to the end of the tunnel, which because of the frequent loading and unloading of the dingy, took about an hour. When we finally reached the end our feet were so sore or cut that it was almost impossible to walk over the hard, and in places sharp, rock to explore the cave fully. But we saw that it was a huge cavern.

Rennes-le-Chateau Crystal Cavern 1  Rennes-le-Chateau Crystal Cavern

A bare foot Pat climbs a high slope at one end of the large cavern

As we were two to three hundred metres into the hill of Rennes-le-Château, there was the chance that a natural tunnel may lead up towards the village. The dingy had suffered on the journey into the mine and we had all heard the air hissing from the leaky seam grow louder and faster as we had progressed. We decided to return to the entrance and visit the cave another day when our feet had healed and with a dingy that didn't leak.

On the return journey Ronny had to constantly pump air into the dingy to keep it afloat. Something that for some reason had us all laughing. By the time we reached the entrance we were all grateful to feel the sun on our faces and hard ground beneath our pained feet. Although the dingy had gotten us back safely it had also suffered again on the return journey and its life as a dingy was probably now over. I wasn't looking forward to returning it to its owner.


Above ground again  -  The Red Dingy - now retired from service  -  Rat Scabies drinking a much needed beer



We returned to the cave in April 2010 with a new dingy and this time we would keep our shoes on.

The new 2010 Dingy

Below are some photographs of our 2010 expedition into the Crystal Cave

Rennes-le-Chateau Crystal Cave 8 Rennes le Chateau Crystal Cave Daylight

The other side of the first mud bank - Looking back towards the entrance daylight steadily gets further away


Rock fall to climb over - Veins of crystal covering the walls


Manhandling the dingy over the mud banks

It was at this point that the scraped on a sharp shard of crystal causing a leak in the bottom of the dingy that grow worst the further we travelled underground. The hiss of escaping air was load in the tunnel. Again Ronny and Pat manned the pump to keep us afloat.


Pat taking his position at the bow so we can squeeze in behind - Thirty minutes later, the dingy moored at the end of the tunnel


The large cavern with a tunnel leading off to explore - A weary Hammott getting far too old for all this caving lark

Before long, after ducking through a small opening, we find ourselves in another large cavern.


The ever energetic Ronny and Pat explore the 2nd Crystal Cavern

After about an hour of exploration we found this cavern was a dead end. Many rocks, some huge, littered the cavern floor and may be hiding an entrance that would lead further into the hill. But without some sort of explosive to move the rocks it was impossible to tell, so we set off on boat ride back through the tunnel. But first we had to pump up the much deflated dingy, well Ronny did it actually while we watched.


Ronny Inflating the Dingy before we start our trip back to daylight - Crossing back over another Mud bank


Pat and Ronny - Almost out, just a few metres to go


Out at last - Beer never tasted so good and another muddy dingy

BEGINNINGS - is now available

the story continues in The PRIEST'S SECRET

Book 2 of the Tomb, the Temple, the Treasure.