Rennes-le-Château: Two Fake Parchments

Paul Smith

3 November 2014

There have been so many fakes and forgeries and retouched photographs perpetrated by Pierre Plantard and Philippe de Chèrisey over the decades that it’s overlooked other examples exist that have nothing to do with them – and here are two examples.

Jean-Luc Chaumeil, Le Charivari 18: “Les Archives du Prieuré de Sion”, pp. 12-13 (1973)

The caption reads as follows: “A sketch drawn by Saunière. The circles at the four corners of the quadrilateral indicate respectively the Tour Magdala, the church of Saint-Madeleine, the Villa Bethania and the Alchemy Tower of the Voisin family's chateau” (Un croquis tracé de la main de l'abbé. Le cercles dessinés aux quatre coins du quadrilatère indiquent la tour Magdala, l'église Sainte-Madeleine, la villa Bethania et la tour d'alchimie du chateau de Voisins)

When asked about this diagram several years ago, Jean-Luc Chaumeil stated he didn’t know either way if it was genuine or a fake. It has not been included in the English translation of “Le Charivari 18” that was published in 2010.

The above diagram reappeared on a website

The commentary reads as follows: “This parchment was entrusted to me by Monsieur Hercule, along with several documents relating to the Maraval family. According to Monsieur Hercule this parchment could have been drawn up by three Templars from Perpignan. We could therefore conclude that Saunière designed the layout of his estate using his own parchments as a guide. Several almost identical parchments are in circulation, but are any of them authentic? We cannot provide any convincing proof – everyone is entitled to their own opinion” (Ce parchemin m'a été confié par monsieur Hercule ainsi que plusieurs documents de la famille Maraval. D'après monsieur Hercule ce parchemin aurait été établit par trois templiers de Perpignan. Nous pourrions donc en tirer la conclusion que Béranger Saunière aurait construit son domaine en s'appuyant sur ses parchemins, plusieurs parchemins à peu près identiques circulent, sont ils authentiques? Nous ne pouvons en apporter la preuve, à chacun son opinion)

Below is the earliest known fake relating to the story of Bérenger Saunière, it was first published in L'Indépendant, 13 August 1962, in the article “Butin des Templiers? Paye des armées royales? Le trésor légendaire de Rennes-le-Château est-il sur le point d’être découvert?" (a photocopy of this article can be obtained by request from the “Archives de l’Aude” in Carcassonne, reference number 31 J 69).

In his biography of Jacques Cholet, published in “Parle-moi de Rennes-le-Chateau!” 2005, Patrick Mensior describes the above “parchment” attributed to “Brother Dominque de Mirepoix” and dated “25 Juin 1249” as a fake planted by a couple of hoaxsters out to dupe Cholet during his excavations – in which they succeeded because Cholet described it as genuine in his report dated 25 April 1967. It was found by Cholet’s excavation partner, Rolland Domergue.

Patrick Mensior is a serious believer and an active promoter of the “mystery and treasure” of Rennes-le-Château – but even he does not believe in the authenticity of either of the above “parchments”.