Coumesourde “stone” Revelations 1962-1967

Origin and development of a Myth

Paul Smith

30 July 2015
Updated 26 September 2016

The Coume Sourde “Stone” was modelled on the Catholic symbol The Shield of Trinity

30 July 1962

Frances-Inter radio programme “Emission de Robert Charroux et Robert Arnaut” called “Today, the treasure of the priest with the billions” (Aujourd’hui Le Trésor du curé aux milliards), interviewed Noël Corbu in Rennes-le-Château who introduced the Coumesourde “stone” to the world for the first time.

Corbu claimed that Saunière had chiselled-away the epitaph from the gravestone of Marie de Negri d'Ables, Countess Hautpoul-Blanchefort. Ernest Cros visited Rennes-le-Château in 1928 to carry out some researches and found some “stones” in the cemetery. Cros found another flagstone at Coumesourde (Ernest Cros was 71 years old in 1928).

The coumesourde “stone” bore precise inscriptions SAE – SIS, which formed the basis of Corbu's researches, emphasis on geometrical angles. Corbu said that SAE stood for Sub Altarum Iglesias (“'under the master altar of the church”). Rennes-le-Château was governed by the sign of the ram (Aries) and this was represented by the geometrical triangle found on the coumesourde “stone”. Corbu claimed that Ernest Cros took both “stones” to Paris (it should be noted that Ernest Cros died in 1946 and Noël Corbu moved to the Aude in 1944).

The coumesourde “stone” bore a Templar cross, suggesting that Bérenger Saunière discovered the legendary treasure of the Knights Templar. Corbu clarified “you have IN MEDIO with a cross patty, a Templar cross patty. And along the side you have LINEA UBI. Below you have M SECAT - that's S.E.C.A.T. - then LINEA PARVAT. Then you have P.S. Then PRAE-CUM again and a Templar cross which ends the third branch of the triangle.”

The other “stone” bore REDDIS REGIS CELLIS ARCIS with PRAE-CUM at the bottom, the letters CELLIS ARCIS were separated by vertical lines:

An appeal was made for people who knew anything about the location of this “stone” to contact Radio Diffusion Française, France 1.

This Noël Corbu radio interview was notable because no more references were made to the treasure of Blanche of Castille and Corbu's treasure story was moving into different directions.

1 August 1962, La Dépêche du Midi

The newspaper launched an Appeal To Parisian Listeners: Hopes of finding something at Rennes-le-Château have been raised even further by an appeal over the airwaves for two triangular stones bearing various key inscriptions. These two stones are believed to be somewhere in Paris. One is inscribed, “P. reddis celis regis arcis praecum” and the other, “Sae sis in medio linea ubi M. cecat linea parva P. S. Praecum.”

August 1962, Noir et Blanc

Article by Yves Saint-Saviol (pseudonym of Robert Charroux) entitled “It’s open season for hunting the billions: they’re finally going to recover the treasures from their hiding-places.”

The treasure story developed into Bérenger Saunière discovering “four or five hollow wooden rolls sealed with wax with parchments inside them.” Corbu was still keeping faith with his story of Ignace Paris and introduced the curé Antoine Bigou into the story for the first time (he buried a hoard of treasure in a hiding-place in the church). Before she died, Marie Dénarnaud told Corbu: “My little friend, one day I’ll leave you so much money you won’t know how to spend it!”

The location of the main hiding-place of the treasure of Rennes-le-Château was carved onto the tombstone of Marie de Negri d'Ables, Countess Hautpoul-Blanchefort: information that Saunière finally deciphered. Corbu claimed that Ernest Cros had partially reconstructed the inscription on the tombstone that Saunière had chiselled-away, believing it was a secret alphabet. But the coumesourde “stone” played an important part.

Noir et Blanc repeated the appeal for assistance from the public in tracking down the coumesourde “stone” that Corbu had claimed was taken away to Paris by Ernest Cros.

Plaisir de France, Number 298, 1 August 1963

An article entitled “Le Président du Club des chercheurs de trésors vous parle...” shows a photograph of Yvette Charroux, Noël Corbu and Denise Carvenne using a metal-detector in the church of Rennes-le-Château, by the main altar and on page 8 showed this early artistic impression of the Coumesourde “stone”:

There weren't any photographs of the Coumesourde “stone” in existence; Noël Corbu only claimed Ernest Cros took it to Paris with him in 1946, while Corbu himself only moved to the Aude in 1944. There is no evidence that Corbu ever met Cros. Appeals to the general public in tracing the “stone” were unsuccessful – yet Noël Corbu was able to provide a detailed description of the “stone” on national radio in 1962 (16 years after the death of Ernest Cros) and an artistic depiction of it was published in the magazine Plaisir de France.

The Cholet Report

Although this Report is dated 25 April 1967, Jacques Cholet had been excavating for Saunière's treasure in Rennes-le-Château since 1959, having gained official permission to do so by both the local Municipal Council and the Carcassonne Bishopric – in contrast to Corbu's activities that were wholly unofficial. Jacques Cholet's references in his Report to the “stone” are of interest because nowhere does he call it “Coumesourde stone”; nor does he mention Noël Corbu or Ernest Cros; Cholet also asks where the “stone” was first discovered, as if he rejected Corbu's stories. This suggests enmity existed between Cholet and Corbu over being rival explorers for Saunière's treasure.

Two Reports attributed to Ernest Cros

There are two typewritten Reports attributed to Ernest Cros entitled “Recherches de Mons. L'Ingenieur en Chef Ernest Cros; enterprises dans la Haute Vallée de l'Aude, surtout durant les années 1920 à 1943”. Neither Report can be accurately dated and their provenance are unknown. One of the reports originated on Noël Corbu's typewriter, bearing the letterhead of the Hotel de La Tour; the other is attributed to René Chesa (who died in February 1991, and was a friend of Abbé Mazières). Both Reports are unreliable in that whoever produced them made the blunder of describing events that allegedly took place in 1958 and 1959, whereas Ernest Cros died in Paris in 1946. Both reports give drawings of the REDDIS REGIS gravestone and the Coumesourde “stone” as well as appropriating passages from the works of Paul Courrent (1861-1952) – in the form of direct quotes and reworked text. Both Reports more-or-less repeat the story of the “stones” as given by Noël Corbu on the 1962 Frances-Inter Radio Programme. The Reports also claimed that Ernest Cros and Bérenger Saunière were acquaintances.

Priory of Sion documents, 1965 and 1966

Two home-made Priory of Sion documents relevant to the REDDIS REGIS tombstone were deposited in the Bibliothèque Nationale of Paris in 1965 and 1966. The 1965 document attributed to “Madeleine Blancassall”, Les Descendants Mérovingiens ou l’énigme du Razès wisigoth depicted the REDDIS REGIS tombstone as described by Noël Corbu in 1962, but with the additional words ET IN ARCADIA EGO in a mixture of Latin and Greek with a stylised drawing of a spider (or octopus) at the bottom (that was evocative of Paul Le Cour's diagram of Le Poulpe, or The Primitive Tradition, published in the 1937 book, L'Ere du Verseau). The 1966 document attributed to “Antoine L’Ermite”, Un Trésor Mérovingien à Rennes-le-Château depicted the same tombstone but with LIXLIXL added at the very bottom; underneath which a caption claimed for the first time that the tombstone had originally been copied by Eugène Stüblein (1832-1899) in his 1884 book Pierres gravées du Languedoc – no reference was made to Ernest Cros in relation to the REDDIS REGIS tombstone within the context of the developing Priory of Sion mythology. The reference to the REDDIS REGIS tombstone had shifted from Ernest Cros to Eugène Stüblein. Both depictions of the tombstones also contained the additional PS PRAE-CUM (instead of only PRAE-CUM).

Gérard de Sède, L'Or de Rennes, 1967

It was on page 125 of Gèrard de Sède's book L'Or de Rennes (René Julliard, 1967; co-authored with Pierre Plantard) that the Coumesourde “stone” first appeared within the framework of the mythology of the Priory of Sion. It was claimed the inscription CEIL BEIL MCCXCII was on the reverse side. L'Or de Rennes repeated Noël Corbu's initial 1962 claim that it was discovered in 1928 (page 124), but without linking it to Ernest Cros, who in the book is presented as someone who was amazed and astonished to find Saunière erasing inscriptions from gravestones (page 34). The REDDIS REGIS tombstone as found in Un Trésor Mérovingien à Rennes-le-Château was reproduced on page 36, with a fake signature of Eugène Stüblein added. The caption read: “'drawn by Eugène Stüblein, and was communicated by M. R. Chésa

Early Philippe de Chèrisey drawing, internet 2007

A crude drawing of the two stones as described by Noël Corbu on the 1962 Frances-Inter radio programme bearing the handwriting of Philippe de Chèrisey appeared on the internet in 2007 from the private archives of publisher Philippe Marlin.

The exact date of the drawing is unknown but it appears to predate Gérard de Sède's 1967 book L'Or de Rennes. The drawing also bears the name “Abbé Mazières.”

It also shows that Philippe de Chèrisey was aware of the 1962 Frances-Inter radio programme because the letters CELLIS ARCIS are separated by vertical lines (or at least he had seen the “Ernest Cros Report” where the letters are also separated by vertical lines).

De Chèrisey's drawing of the Coumesourde stone looks identical to the version published in L'Or de Rennes .


Noël Corbu introduced the story of the Coumesourde “stone” in 1962 when he began changing his claims about the source of Saunière's wealth and disposing of the story of Blanche of Castille. Noël Corbu seems to have pinned his claims about the Coumesourde “stone” on the name of a dead man – Ernest Cros.

But how did Noël Corbu come across the name of Ernest Cros to begin with? He must have found it mentioned in a 1959 article about the Knights Templar by Abbé Mazières, who happened to be a friend of Ernest Cros (Le venue et le séjour de Templiers du Roussillon à la fin du XIIIe siècle et au début du XIVe dans la vallée du Bézu (Aude), Mémoires of the Society of Arts and Sciences of Carcassonne, 1957-1959, 4th series, volume III, page 232). Ernest Cros was linked to the region by virtue of spending his holidays in Quillan. Abbé Mazières was the Vicar of Quillan 1940-1954.

But there is much more to this – Abbé Mazières' position towards Rennes-le-Château during the late 1950s was similar to that adopted by René Descadeillas – Mazières believed there was “something” to the Bérenger Saunière story as told by Noël Corbu – as is evident by reading his article about the Knights Templar – and the first person Mazières thanked in his list of acknowledgments was Ernest Cros – his name was on top of Mazières' acknowledgment list.

That Noël Corbu engaged in plain mythmaking is shown by the fact that he never referred to the drawing of the real tombstone of Marie de Negri d'Ables on page 101 in the article by Elie Tisseyre in the Bulletin of the Society for Scientific Study of the Aude (Volume 17, 1906) – Corbu was a member of the Society for Scientific Study of the Aude. In plain language, Corbu suppressed the real inscription in order to highlight a fictional REDDIS REGIS tombstone.

Philippe de Chèrisey later appropriated the Coumesourde “stone” into becoming a component of the Priory of Sion mythology for Gérard de Sède's book L'Or de Rennes, manipulating the “PS Prae-Cum” components into a Priory of Sion framework that also became a crucial element in the decoding technique of the Large Parchment.

Philippe de Chèrisey also appropriated the REDDIS REGIS tombstone as described by Noël Corbu on the 1962 Frances-Inter radio programme, adding the words ET IN ARCADIA EGO in a mixture of Latin and Greek with the stylised picture of the spider (or octopus) that was evocative of Paul Le Cour's diagram of Le Poulpe.

Philippe de Chèrisey and Pierre Plantard synthesised Noël Corbu's claims about Blanche of Castille, the REDDIS REGIS gravestone and later in 1967 the Coumesourde “stone” from which the mythology of the Priory of Sion was to evolve.

Philippe de Chèrisey and the Coumesourde “stone,” conclusion

In his manuscript “Pierre et Papier” dating from approximately 1971-1973, Philippe de Chèrisey claimed to have forged the Coumesourde “stone”: “That Mr Cros existed is one thing, that the small wad of typed pages was from a typewriter that he would have used himself, is another. As far as I know, as I held these pages in my hands, they could equally be my work, which I could have passed to Mr Noël Corbu in Rennes-le-Château in exactly the same manner that I forwarded Documents I and II to Gérard de Sède.

The Coumesourde “stone” was Philippe de Chèrisey's forgery in the sense that he added components to something that first originated in the fertile imagination of Noël Corbu. Important clues that the Coumesourde “stone” and the REDDIS REGIS tombstone had nothing to do with Philippe de Chèrisey originally lie in the shift in reference from Ernest Cros to Eugène Stüblein in the case of the REDDIS REGIS gravestone – and that the Coumesourde “stone” only figured in Gérard de Sède's book, L'Or de Rennes (1967) and was not featured in any of the Priory of Sion Documents.

It has been suggested that the Coumesourde “stone” was a forgery perpetrated by Abbé Mazières – however, this suggestion does not furnish us with a motive as to why Abbé Mazières would have wanted to forge the “stone” in the first place.

The Coume Sourde “Stone” was modelled on the Catholic symbol The Shield of Trinity