Roman Millstones St-Quentin-la-Potèrie
Carrieres de Meules Romain - Provence Beyond
This 2000-year-old quarry, a short hike from St Quentin-la-Potèrie, was used by the Romans and up to the19th century as a source of grinding wheels for flour mills in area around Uzès. Today, the woods have been cleared of an area of about 100 meters of rockface, revealing the area exploited at the end of the Roman Era (4th - 6th centuries).
You can visit the old millstones quarry by hiking up from St-Quentin-la-Potèrie, drive out to a parking area a bit closer (Roman Millstones St-Quentin Map), or even park alongside a road that passes nearby.
Hikes out from the village cross fields of grain, vineyards, olive groves, and a few truffle groves hidden in the trees. The final part of the route is on a forestry road along the base of the hills, and a final hiking path up to the quarry site, with some steps created with stone or wood supports.
The quarry is a long rock face of a low cliff, separated into different sections by the natural rock formations. The thick underbrush is cleared out along the front of cliffs, and you can hike around to the different areas of the quarry. An information panel (French, English) at the site explains how the exposed part of the quarry was used.
There are a couple of natural caves in the rock face, one quite large and walled off in front. The hollowed out areas of the cliff where the millstones were extracted are shallow, and you'll need to look closely to find them.
There are a few old millstones laying abandoned on the ground, including a couple on the path leading up to the quarry site.
The cliffs are made up of a layer of sandstone and Miocene conglomerate, a hard and abrasive stone good for grinding cereals. The site was exploited between the 2nd and 19th centuries. The exposed part of the quarry is the Roman section. The information panel there shows where four working lines, each probably worked by a different operatior.
The quarrymen lived in four Gallo-Roman rural dwellings established in the Saint Quentin basin, at the foof ot the millstone massif. The millstone slabs extracted from the quarry were finished in these settlements.
From Medieval times to the 19th century the millstone quarries developed further down the slope, in what is now very dense vegetation.