Photographer's Note

A view of the Lanterne des Morts (Lantern of the Dead) at Fenioux in Charente-Maritime.

The Lantern at Fenioux stands in an old cemetery, now grassed over, next to an ancient tomb. It was constructed in the 12th century, the tomb dates from the same period. The bottom part consists of a bundle of eleven columns. This is surmounted by the lantern, which is made up of thirteen small columns. It is finished by a pyramid covered with overlapping tiles topped by a cross. There are 37 steps inside the main column that allow the lamplighter access to the lantern.

Wikipedea has this to say about these constructions in general terms:

Lanterns of the Dead is the architectural name for the small towers in stone found chiefly in the centre and west of France, pierced with small openings at the top, where a light was exhibited at night to indicate the position of a cemetery.

These towers were usually circular, with a small entrance in the lower part giving access to the interior, so as to raise the lamps by a pulley to the required height. One of the most perfect in France is that at Cellefrouin (Charente), which consists of a series of eight attached semicircular shafts, raised on a pedestal, and is crowned with a conical roof decorated with fir cones; it has only one aperture, towards the main road.

The following web site has a long article in French on these curious constructions and a comprehensive inventory:

http://cfpphr.free.fr/lanternedesmorts.htm

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Additional Photos by Stephen Nunney (snunney) Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 10627 W: 63 N: 29874] (130967)
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