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Bories Explained

 Bories Explained photo borie-gordes090bb.jpg

 Bories photo st-quentin-borie0003m.jpg Dry-stone construction, which has been around since the dawn of time, can be seen in the hills throughout the Beyond region. In the southeast of France, in what is now the Alpes Maritimes, bories date back to the Ligurians, roughly 600 BC up to Roman times.

These ancient bories are often near, and sometimes integrated with, Ligurian oppidum and ancient bergeries. Being of universal practicality, these ancient bories have been used well into modern times, or more modern but identical versions built when needed. We don't think they're often "restored", since they tend to last pretty much forever, excepting when vandilized for their stone, or for more mundane reasons.

The Luberon region, is famous for it's interesting bories, which pretty much date back to the 13th century. Around the 18th and early 19th centuries, farmers and shepherds built everything from small stone huts (bories) to complete small farm complexes with this method.

Although the bories were very useful, the reason for building them was very basic: to clear the stones from the fields. If the stones hadn't been in the way, most of the bories probably wouldn't have been built. But there were a lot of stones to clear, and rather than just make an enormous pile, something useful was created. M. Pierre Martel built a small borie in 1964 the way his grandfather had done. When he finished, he figured that he had used up to 300,000 stones, or about 180 tons. ["Bories", by the Parc Naturel Régional du Luberon; Edisud]

The land is often barren of good timber and the stone is plentiful. These are labor-intensive constructions, built in a time when schedules were more relaxed. The artistry includes very careful selection of stones of varying thickness and then assembling them into tight, compact walls with neatly straight edges. The fact that many of these bories have lasted centuries, while the cement has crumbled on more modern buildings, shows the benefit of simple ideas and good workmanship. Oh, yes. The bories can be ancient, but the name is late 19th century.
In the rocky land of the bories, you'll often find thick stone walls that have no apparent purpose. We've seen areas where the walls are only a few meters apart, sometimes running to 4 to 5 meters wide and only 10 or 20 meters long.

The areas of the Alpes Maritimes that have many bories, are the same areas with many Ligurian oppidum.


An excellent book (in French) about the Provence bories, with photos, maps and architectural drawings is:

Parc Natural Régional du Luberon
Edisud (publisher)
ISBN 2-85744-720-5

For ordering the book, try contacting one of the Luberon organizations.

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