Photographer's Note

It took the best part of a day finding this little and well hidden Cathar castle in the middle of ’nowhere’ in the ‘les Gorges d l’Aude’. Finding the castle closed for the season was not planned at all. Hopefully you will find the exterior shot of interest. Below some details of the castle.

The Cathar castle of Usson.
This Cathar stronghold hidden in "les Gorges de l' Aude" was left out of the Albigean crusade. Its castle is now more or less forgotten. It was practically dismantled after the revolution. The few ruins left do not allow us to guess what it was at the time of the Cathars. Four Cathars escaping from Montsegur took refuge here in 1244. The legend says that they were carrying the Cathar treasure.Up-stream from Axat in the Aude Gorge, carved out of the foothills of the Pyrenees, is the little known castle of Usson. It dates from the eleventh century (perhaps earlier) and during the Cathar period marked the eastern boundary of the territories of the Counts of Foix. In the twelfth century this was the capital of the Donezan region. Before the Défilé was cut through the mountains to link Quillan to Axat, this was an innaccessible outpost providing succour for faidits and other persecuted Cathars. The Cathar bishop of Toulouse Guilhabert de Castres is known to have taken refuge here. Towards the end of the wars against the Cathars this was one of the last sancturies, providing support for Montsegur. The seigneurs of Usson, Bernard d'Alion and Arnaud d'Usson sent arms and supplies to their besiged comrades there. On 15th March 1244, the day before 225 Cathar Parfaits were burned alive at Montsegur, four other Parfaits left the castle there for Usson, where the Cathar treasure had been evacuated a few months earlier. What this treasure was, and what happened to it, no-one knows.

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Additional Photos by Jack R Johanson (jrj) Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 4529 W: 494 N: 7430] (34843)
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