Small heritage in the Aubrac mountains
Isn't this beautiful cross the one that once guided and reassured pilgrims and shepherds? These charming bread ovens and other chestnut dryers that we come across in hamlets and villages, don’t they bring before our eyes the past of these places’ ancestors?
The bread oven
In Lozère’s countryside, where life was harsh and where the shadow of famine constantly hung over the population, bread was essential. Before the development of bakeries, the inhabitants of the village regularly met around the oven, where it was made. The ovens are most of the time built on the same plan: they consist of a hangar with a structured or vaulted roof covered with slate, as well as a heating chamber protected by masonry walls and always vaulted in order to conserve the heat.
The farrier station
It was used, as its name suggests, to shoe animals used for logging and working in the fields. Mainly cows and oxen would be shoed, more placid than horses. These "ferradous", as they are called here, bear witness to Lozère’s agricultural history and are now becoming increasingly rare because most of them, made of wood, are subject to the wear of time and require maintenance.
Lozère carries many crosses. They are the symbol of the religious fervor that animated Gévaudan in the past. Their large number should not make us forget that each one you come across on your way is there for a specific function. They can be classified into several large groups: Christian crosses placed on places of pagan worship, worship crosses for the dead, pilgrimage crosses, crosses of procession and mission and eventually demarcation crosses. Those placed near roads and bridges also reassured the traveler in these rough and remote regions, because they evoked the presence of God on dangerous roads and providers of many evils.
The chestnut dryer
Sometimes found in the foothills of the Aubrac mountains are the chestnut dryers, or "secadous" in Occitan. In this part of Aubrac, chestnuts are very widespread and provided the staple food for men during often very harsh winters. There are thus many driers scattered throughout the territory because they allowed the chestnuts to be preserved, sometimes for several years. They were picked up in the fall, and some families could accumulate more than 300 kg. They were then left to dry for 10 to 30 days by placing them on a rack placed in the dryer heated by hot air mixed with smoke, then peeled by hand. Thus prepared, the chestnuts could be kept for 3 or 4 years.