Philippe de Chérisey’s Treasure of Rennes-le-Château

Paul Smith

12 May 2017

Philippe de Chérisey’s explanation of the treasure of Rennes-le-Château is found in his 1971 novella “Circuit” (Chapter XII: The Hanged Man).

His explanation demonstrates how often he used the story of Rennes-le-Château as a peg on which to hang his characteristic excessive kookiness.

Philippe de Chérisey’s source relating to the gold of the Volcae Tectosages, originating from Strabo, is given below his explanation. (The serpent of Delphi and the serpent god Aereda of the Celts of the Pyrenees could have been linked in Philippe de Chérisey’s mind, thus giving rise to the idea of the “genealogy of dragons.”)

Philippe de Chérisey’s explanation:

“...the enrichment of Abbé Saunière would appear to be the consequence of the discovery of a treasure. According to popular tradition, in Rennes there is a treasure worth 350 million heavy francs divided into 180 caches. The origin of this fortune would be an aggregation of the gold of Delphi, that of King Solomon, that of the Visigoths, and that of the Merovingians. A genealogy of dragons have kept it going from the Volques Tectosages to the little parish priests, passing by the Riphaea, from whom Roseline is descended, the Cathars of Montsegur and the Templars of Languedoc. Shall we one day have you among the dragons?” (“…l’enrichissement de l’abbé Saunière apparaitrait consecutif à la découverte d’un trésor. Selon la tradition populaire, il existerait à Rennes un trésor de 350 millions de francs lourds répartis en 180 caches. L’origine de cette fortune serait une jonction de l’or de Delphes, de celui du roi Salomon, de celui des Wisigoths et de celui des Mérovingiens. Une généalogie de dragons l’aurait gardé allant des Volkes Tectosages aux petits curés en passant par les Riphées de qui descendait Roseline, les cathares de Montségur et les Templiers du Languedoc. Nous aurons-vous un jour parmi les dragons ?”)


Geography Book IV, Chapter 1
“The Gold of Tolosa”
(Loeb Classical Library, Volume II, 1923)

“And it is further said that the Tectosages shared in the expedition to Delphi; and even the treasures that were found among them in the city of Tolosa by Caepio, a general of the Romans, were, it is said, a part of the valuables that were taken from Delphi, although the people, in trying to consecrate them and propitiate the god, added thereto out of their personal properties, and it was on account of having laid hands on them that Caepio ended his life in misfortunes — for he was cast out by his native land as a temple-robber, and he left behind as his heirs female children only, who, as it turned out, became prostitutes, as Timagenes has said, and therefore perished in disgrace. However, the account of Poseidonius is more plausible: for he says that the treasure that was found in Tolosa amounted to about fifteen thousand talents (part of it in sacred lakes), unwrought, that is, merely gold and silver bullion; whereas the temple at Delphi was in those times already empty of such treasure, because it had been robbed at the time of the sacred war by the Phocians; but even if something was left, it was divided by many among themselves; neither is it reasonable to suppose that they reached their homeland in safety, since they fared wretchedly after their retreat from Delphi and, because of their dissensions, were scattered, some in one direction, others in another. But, as has been said both by Poseidonius and several others, since the country was rich in gold, and also belonged to people who were god-fearing and not extravagant in their ways of living, it came to have treasures in many places in Celtica; but it was the lakes, most of all, that afforded the treasures their inviolability, into which the people let down heavy masses of silver or even of gold. At all events, the Romans, after they mastered the regions, sold the lakes for the public treasury, and many of the buyers found in them hammered millstones of silver. And, in Tolosa, the temple too was hallowed, since it was very much revered by the inhabitants of the surrounding country, and on this account the treasures there were excessive, for numerous people had dedicated them and no one dared to lay hands on them.”


Alexandre-Louis-Charles-André Du Mège
Monumens Religieux des Volces-Tectosages: des Gerumni et des
Convenae ou Fragmens de l'Archaeologie Pyrénéenne, et Recherches
sur les Antiquités du Département de la Haute-Garonne

(Toulouse, 1814; pages 207-208)

No. 25. It seems certain that the name of the god to which the monument in fig. 2 was dedicated was also derived from the Celtic language.

It seems that he was also worshipped in a small part of the Pyrenees. The only monument which has preserved for us the name of this God and the memory of the religious cult which was established for him is a little altar of white marble found at the foot of the mountain of Gert or Ert, which is a short distance from the Commune of Siradan [1] and more than 120 km from Toulouse.

This monument was erected by a Gaul called Cucurus.

“The name of the god AEREDA is Celtic with a Latin ending, just like those on the Druidic altars found at Notre Dame de Paris”, says Monsieur JOHANNEAU. “It is derived from AER RED, meaning running snake, or, better, from AER HED, a snake which stretches out, a snake which extends its length.”

The deified snake is found in almost all myths of the ancient peoples. SERAPIS and PLUTO accompanied by the snake represent the SUN during the last two seasons of the year. The giant snake called Serpens which AESCULAPIUS holds in his hands and whose body extends into the signs of Libra, Scorpio and Sagittarius is the attribute of the SUN-GOD during his passage into the inferior signs. In the light of this we might assume that the god AEREDA, whose name means the snake that stretches out, is nothing other than the SUN-GOD during the autumn and winter. But we must also assume that the cult of AEREDA, or rather of AER HED, dated from an epoch subsequent to the conquest of the Gauls by the Romans, although this opinion needs to be treated with some caution as we do not know any of the names that the Druids gave to the constellations and signs, and because there is no evidence that they used the same symbols as the Egyptians, Greeks and Romans.

Even so, if we assume that there was some degree of religious communication between the Gaulish Aquitanians and the Oriental peoples then we can easily trace the origin of AEREDA or the snake that extends its length and can recognise, in this Gaulish god, the Agathodemon of the Phoenicians and the Kneph of the Egyptians.

[1] This village is located in the Département of Hautes-Pyrénées a little more than 20 km from Lugdunum Convenarum. The drawing of the altar reproduced here was given to me by Monsieur SARBIEU, a resident of Sirdan.